Military Detention Law Stands as Top Court Rejects Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court left intact a law that reinforced the federal government’s power to place people under military detention, turning away a challenge led by a former New York Times journalist.

The justices today said they won’t review a federal appeals court’s conclusion that the challengers couldn’t contest the measure because they hadn’t shown they were in danger of being detained.

The provision was enacted as part of the 2011 defense authorization measure. The challengers say it expanded the president’s detention powers, authorizing for the first time military detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.

The Obama administration says the provision simply reaffirmed the detention powers Congress gave the president after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The challengers contended the provision violates their First Amendment rights by having a “chilling effect” on their work as journalists, authors and activists. The group was led by Christopher Hedges, whose New York Times coverage of global terrorism helped win a Pulitzer Prize.

The group also included a German citizen and a member of the Icelandic parliament. Both have ties to Wikileaks, which has disclosed classified information about U.S. military and diplomatic efforts.

In urging the high court not to hear the case, the Obama administration said the measure doesn’t authorize detention of any of the challengers based on their work as they have described it. The government also said the measure doesn’t permit detentions of U.S. citizens.

The case is Hedges v. Obama, 13-758.

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