Title Padilla v. Hanft
Publisher United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Publication Date 9 September 2005
Country United States of America
Type of Decision 05-6396
Cite as Padilla v. Hanft, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, 9 September 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/cases,USA_CA_4,4374b6144.html [accessed 22 October 2017]
Comments Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, at Charleston. Henry F. Floyd, District Judge. (CA-04-2221-26AJ) Argued: July 19, 2005; Decided: September 9, 2005. The Court reversed the judgment of the district court, which held that the President lacks the authority to detain Padilla and that Padilla should therefore be either criminally charged or released. Jose Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in May 2002 at the Chicago airport when he was returning from Pakistan. After Padilla left the battlefield in Afghanistan, where he had been fighting against the US forces, he was recruited by al Qaeda members in Pakistan in order to come to the United States and commit terrorist attacks within the country. Subsequent to the President?s determination of Padilla as an ?enemy combatant?, Padilla was taken into military custody, where he has remained since. Padilla filed this petition for a writ of habeas corpus, and the district court found that the President lacks the authority to detain Padilla, and that his detention violates the Constitution and laws of the United States. The district court held that Padilla should either be criminally charged or released. The issue before the Court was ?whether the President of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda, an entity with which the United States is at war; who took up arms on behalf of that enemy and against our country in a foreign combat zone of that war; and who thereafter traveled to the United States for the avowed purpose of further prosecuting that war on American soil, against American citizens and targets.? The Court affirmed this authority of the President pursuant to the Congress? Authorization for Use of Military Force Joint Resolution (?the AUMF?), which states ?[t]hat the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force?in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism.? The Court cited Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, in which the Supreme Court (?the SC?) upheld the authority of the Executive to militarily detain citizens who qualify as ?enemy combatants?. The Court concluded that, like Hamdi, Padilla was an enemy combatant, and that his military detention was therefore justified under the AUMF. Padilla claimed that his situation was different from Hamdi?s in that he was seized on US soil, and that he therefore did not fall within the narrow scope of the SC?s opinion. The Court mentioned that the SC decision did not refer to the site of the seizure and that Hamdi v. Rumsfeld permitted the detention of a person who was engaged in ?supporting forces hostile to the United States? and who was ?engaged in armed conflict against the United States?. Moreover, the Court held, that the distinction by way of locus of seizure was not compatible with the reasoning of the Court, which allowed the military detention because ?detention to prevent a combatant?s return to the battlefield is a fundamental incident of waging war.? The Court found that this necessity was the same in Padilla?s therefore rejected the argument. Padilla further asserted that his military detention is not ?necessary and appropriate?, because he is ?amenable to criminal prosecution.? The Court again noted that in this respect, his situation did not differ from Hamdi?s, and that if ?the mere availability of criminal prosecution rendered detention unnecessary within the meaning of the AUMF, then Hamdi?s detention would have been unnecessary and therefore unauthorized.? Moreover, the Court was convinced ?that the availability of criminal process cannot be determinative of the power to detain, if for no other reason than that criminal prosecution may well not achieve the very purpose for which detention is authorized in the first place - - the prevention of return to the field of the battle.?
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