In the Padilla case, Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th circuit court of appeals blasted the administration’s handling of the case and rejected their move to do a jurisdictional shuffle to keep this case from ever reaching the Supreme Court.
For those of you who haven’t been following: Padilla was arrested on a charge of a “dirty bomb” plot about 3.5 years ago and was held incommunicado in a military prison until heavy outside pressure forced them to allow him counsel (about a year and a half later). The case now pending before the court is whether the administration has the right to hold a US citizen as an enemy combatant outside of the legal system. The case is approaching the Supreme Court, so a few weeks ago the government tried a jurisdiction move: they formally charged Padilla with some unrelated matters and ordered him moved to a civilian prison, in an attempt to moot the issue, and asked the court of appeals to withdraw an earlier decision it made in their favor so that the Supreme Court wouldn’t have a chance to review it. Luttig is a very prominent (and very conservative) jurist, so the forcefulness of his statement today is a big deal.