The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Tuesday extended a stay [opinion, PDF] on a lower court order that barred enforcement of a law allowing the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists. The Second Circuit's order allows certain provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) [text, PDF], specifically Section 1021(b)(2), to remain in force pending appeal. This provision affirms the authority of the president under the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to detain indefinitely any "person who was a part of or substantially supported al Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of such enemy forces." The US Department of Justice (DOJ) argued that Judge Katherine Forrest's ruling interpreted the AUMF unnecessarily and may have done "irreparable harm to national security and public interest by injecting added burdens and dangerous confusion into the conduct of military operations abroad during an active armed conflict." The appeals court panel based their decision on the fact the government (1) clarified the provision to protect overreach, (2) the statute does not affect existing rights of United States Citizens and (3) the district court injunction appears to be overbroad.
The DOJ requested [JURIST report] the emergency stay pending appeal [petition, PDF] in September. Forrest issued an injunction against the law in May, and clarified in the following weeks that her injunction should be interpreted broadly [JURIST reports]. Several civil rights groups have praised her decision and have circulated petitions [advocacy website] arguing that the government should not appeal the injunction. Lawyers for the government filed their appeal [JURIST report] with the Second Circuit in August. US President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law [JURIST report] in December.