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U.S. Judge Won’t Delay ‘Unprecedented’ Military Detention Ruling

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Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- A federal judge declined to delay implementation of an order permanently blocking enforcement of a law that opponents claim may subject them to indefinite military detention for speech protected by the Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan today ruled against the government’s request for a stay of her Sept. 12 decision, in a case challenging a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012. In the ruling, Forrest extended a preliminary injunction against the law that she had entered in May.

Forrest ruled that the law violates rights guaranteed by the First, Fifth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The government yesterday filed court papers to appeal. Lawyers from the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan today asked Forrest to delay the order, calling it “unprecedented.”

The suit challenging the law was filed Jan. 13 by a group including former New York Times reporter Christopher Hedges. The plaintiffs claim that Section 1021(b)(2) of the law allows for detention of citizens and permanent residents taken into custody in the U.S. on “suspicion of providing substantial support” to groups engaged in hostilities against the U.S. such as al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The case is Hedges v. Obama, 12-cv-00331, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Bob Van Voris in Manhattan federal court at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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