District Court Rejects New Rules Limiting Gitmo Detainee Access to Attorneys

Yesterday Judge Royce Lamberth rejected the federal government’s effort to place restrictions on Guantanamo detainee access to their attorneys. Specifically, the government maintained it was the Executive Branch’s prerogative to limit attorney access for those detainees not currently seeking habeas relief. (Those detainees with ongoing habeas proceedings were unquesitonably subject to a 2008 Protective Order issued by the district court ensuring detainee access to attorneys.) Judge Lamberth would have nothing of the federal government’s arguments, and issued a strongly worded opinion (even for him). As Charlie Savage reports in the NYT:

In a scathing, 32-page opinion, Royce C. Lamberth, the chief judge of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled in the detainees’ favor, characterizing the government’s arguments using terms like “untenable,” “quite preposterous,” “even less persuasive,” and “does not pass the smell test.”

The judge wrote: “The court, whose duty it is to secure an individual’s liberty from unauthorized and illegal executive confinement, cannot now tell a prisoner that he must beg leave of the executive’s grace before the court will involve itself. This very notion offends the separation-of-powers principles and our constitutional scheme.”

Here is a copy of the opinion and a round up of media coverage on How Appealing.