Third Party & Independents Archives

Federal Court Orders Padilla Set Free Failing Criminal Charges by the Government

Oh how slowly the wheels of American justice turn, but turn they do. In a ruling yesterday afternoon U.S. District Judge Henry Floyd, sitting of South Carolina, ordered the government to charge Padilla with a crime within 45 days or let him go.

Calling the Padilla case a matter of law enforcement and not a military matter, the judge ruled that the government cannot hold the so-called "enemy combatant" without charging him with a crime. The judge future implied that the President had overstepped the authority of his office is declaring Padilla an enemy combatant stating,

Since (Padilla's) alleged terrorist plans were thwarted when he was arrested on the material witness warrant, the court finds that the president's subsequent decision to detain (him) as an enemy combatant was neither necessary nor appropriate.

Judge Floyd went on to write:

It is true that there may be times during which it is necessary to give the executive branch greater power than at other times. Such a granting of power, however, is in the province of the legislature and no one else -- not the court and not the president.

I agree, the President grossly overstepped the bounds of his office in declaring Padilla an "enemy combatant" while at the same time giving the "American Taliban" John Walker, who is white, a free pass, despite the fact that he was found on the field of battle in Afghanistan. Walker, who was never labeled an enemy combatant, was charged criminally and is now serving time; meanwhile Padilla is languishing in a military brig in South Carolina, charged with nothing. Such arbitrary distinctions clearly violate the 14th Amendment, and shout of racial bias on the part of the President.

It's a shame that a ruling of this nature had to take as long as it did. But I never lost faith in the justice system to rule in favor of Padilla however long it took. The government will of course appeal, but hopefully the 4th Circuit will rule as the District Court did, and set Mr. Padilla free…however onerous his (alleged) behavior, he is an American citizen and deserving of the Constitutional right afforded to us all.

Posted by V. Edward Martin at March 1, 2005 12:00 PM