A lot of Americans breathed a little easier last week when a federal judge ruled that the National Defense Authorization Act — which allows the executive branch, after thinking about it for a minute, to throw anyone in a military jail forever, effectively doing an end-run around the judicial branch and the whole balance-of-powers thing — is completely unconstitutional.
Well, stop breathing so goddamn easily, you slack-diaphragmed potential future lifelong Guantanamo detainees! That was last week.
The ink on Judge Forrest’s ruling was not yet dry when Justice Department lawyers appealed the case. Then, yesterday, Judge Raymond Lohier of the Second Circuit granted an emergency stay on Forrest’s ruling until September 28, when a three-judge panel will rule on a longer application to stay the ruling.
Lohier didn’t offer any reasoning for his decision to grant the request to suspend Forrest’s ruling, but if he hadn’t granted the stay, the Obama administration wouldn’t have been allowed to throw anyone they want to into indefinite extrajudicial detention for 11 whole days, so you can see what was at stake here.
Check in next week, when we’ll let you know whether the appeals panel decides subjecting Americans to indefinite military detention is still just fine or it’s back to being completely unconstitutional.