- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Chinese Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay asked the Supreme Court on Monday to order their release into the United States.

In court papers, a group of Uighurs says the high court should overrule a federal appeals panel in Washington, which has blocked the release of the Uighurs.

A federal judge determined in October that the Uighurs should be freed because the Pentagon no longer considered them enemy combatants. U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said they should be allowed into this country because the administration could find no other country willing to accept them.

The Uighurs argued that last year's Supreme Court ruling that granted Guantanamo detainees the right to go to federal court to seek their freedom is meaningless if they can continue to be held.

“The U.S. government has acknowledged that these 17 men are wrongly imprisoned at Guantanamo and have nowhere safe to go,” said Emi MacLean, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “If President Obama is truly committed to closing Guantanamo, these men should be on a plane to restart their lives in the United States.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said Judge Urbina had gone too far in ordering the men released into the U.S.

The three-judge appeals panel suggested the detainees might be able to seek entry by applying to the Homeland Security Department, which administers U.S. immigration laws. But the court bluntly concluded that the detainees otherwise had no constitutional right to immediate freedom after being held in custody at Guantanamo without charges for nearly seven years.

Also Monday, the high court refused to get in the middle of a fight between the Navy and some of its chaplains over complaints that only Catholic chaplains were allowed to stay in the service long enough to get retirement pensions.

The court refused to hear an appeal from nonliturgical Protestant chaplains who say they were discriminated against by the Navy. They said the Navy exclusively appointed overage Catholic chaplains and allowed them to stay on active duty beyond mandated retirement ages so they could get retirement pensions.

The Supreme Court also ruled that confessions obtained by federal authorities before a suspect's first court appearance may be inadmissible if more than six hours elapse between an arrest and a court date.

The court said in a 5-4 decision that allowing long delays before a suspect is taken before a judge can give the government too much leverage over someone who has been arrested.

The court also agreed to hear an appeal from the state of Georgia over attorney fees for lawyers who sued to force dramatic changes in Georgia's foster care system.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob awarded them $10.5 million in attorney fees, a $4.5 million enhancement on top of a $6 million award. Judge Shoob said he increased the award because of the exceptional results that children's advocates achieved. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to overturn his decision.

The class-action lawsuit against Georgia, settled in 2005, prompted the state to reduce worker case loads, improve investigations into abuse and prevent overcrowding in foster homes. Gov. Sonny Perdue, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, authorized hiring 500 additional child-welfare workers.

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