Opponents Of Law on Detainees Rebuffed
Judges Reject Brief On a Technicality

Associated Press
Saturday, December 30, 2006

An appeals court considering whether Guantanamo Bay detainees have constitutional rights said yesterday that it will not accept arguments by seven retired federal judges who oppose a new U.S. anti-terrorism law.

In a 2 to 1 decision yesterday, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said it would not accept the judges' brief on a legal technicality, saying the title "judge" should not be used to describe former judges in legal proceedings. The court is examining whether "enemy combatants" should be allowed to challenge their detention in U.S. courts.

Seven retired federal judges from both political parties filed a friend-of-the-court brief in November, urging the appeals court to declare parts of the new law, which was signed by President Bush this fall, unconstitutional.

They said the law, which sets up military commissions to hear terrorism cases, "challenges the integrity of our judicial system" and effectively sanctions the use of torture.

The appeals panel's more conservative judges, David B. Sentelle and A. Raymond Randolph, issued the opinion, with Judge Judith W. Rogers, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, dissenting.

Carl W. Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor, said it is unusual for such briefs to be rejected.

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