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Ear to the Ground

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Chris Hedges’ Indefinite Detention Case

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Posted on Apr 28, 2014

    Protesters demonstrate against the NDAA in Chicago. Photo by World Can't Wait

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges and other plaintiffs the right to challenge a law that allows the U.S. military to indefinitely detain people alleged or suspected to have helped al-Qaida or the Taliban.

A milestone in the so-called war on terror, the decision leaves the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) intact. The provision was ruled unconstitutional in 2012 by a federal court in New York after Hedges v. Obama was filed in January of that year, but that decision was overturned by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the summer of 2013.

The plaintiffs argued the NDAA chills free speech by threatening constitutionally protected activities including reporting, protest and political organizing for controversial causes.

Hedges’ co-plaintiffs were Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, writer and linguist Noam Chomsky, Icelandic parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir, RevolutionTruth founder Jennifer Bolen, Occupy London activist Kai Wargalla, and journalist and founder of “US Day of Rage” Alexa O’Brien.

Reuters reports:

The appeals court said the challengers had no standing because they could not show the provision has any bearing on the government’s authority to detain U.S. citizens.

The court said the plaintiffs who were not U.S. citizens lacked standing to sue because they did not show “a sufficient threat that the government will detain them” under the provision.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named Cornel West as a co-plaintiff in Hedges v. Obama.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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