In an unexpected move, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit asked the Justice Department for more information on whether it should vacate its ruling that Padilla could be detained as an "enemy combatant" without charge.
In particular, according to a Reuters report, "The court said the government must explain why it used different facts to justify Padilla's military detention from those included in last week's indictment that charged Padilla with conspiracy to murder and aiding terrorists abroad."
The government had initially argued -- and publicly stated -- that Padilla was, in effect, the "dirty bomber." Georgetown University law professor David Cole said, "The court seems perturbed at the radical disconnect between what the Justice Department told it about Padilla and what it is willing to try to prove to a jury now that he's been indicted."
Padilla was indicted last week in an apparent attempt by the administration to bypass a possible adverse ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States. In performing this legal maneuver, the government also expected that the Fourth Circuit's ruling would stand. This latest development, however, calls into question whether the government may be able to rely on the precedent that an enemy combatant in Padilla's situation can be held (for three years) without charge.
Previous posts on the Padilla matter are available here, here, and here.
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