Today’s Cool Fact of the Day (Double Bumper Edition)

At first I thought this was surely the cool fact of the day: Global subway systems converge on common topologies. For example,

Patterns emerged: The core-and-branch topology, of course, and patterns more fine-grained. Roughly half the stations in any subway will be found on its outer branches rather than the core. The distance from a city’s center to its farthest terminus station is twice the diameter of the subway system’s core. This happens again and again.

But really, I think this is the cool fact of the day: the opinion in Hedges v. Obama, in which a fairly newly appointed District Court Judge, Katherine Forrest, holds that a § 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional. That vague provision could be read to give the US government authority to put US citizens in military detention for meeting with terrorists and writing about them.

It’s a nicely written opinion; the key move seems to be that the court described the plaintiffs’ activities in speaking, meeting and writing to the government, gave them plenty of time to consider the facts before the hearing, and the government was unwilling or unable to say that these first amendment activities were outside the scope of the statute. This tactical choice by the government also caused the Court to find that the plaintiffs had standing — not commonly the result in such cases. Similarly, the government’s unwillingness to give definite much less narrowing constructions to key statutory terms led the Court to hold the statute unconstitutionally vague.

This is really something — even though it’s just a preliminary injunction. That means there’s still the next round in the District Court, then an appeal to the 2nd Circuit, and perhaps beyond.

This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Guantanamo, National Security. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Today’s Cool Fact of the Day (Double Bumper Edition)

  1. Have you seen the government’s motion to reconsider Hedges? The government is upset about the ruling not going their way, so they’re taking back a lot of the things they said during the hearing. I can’t wait to see Forrest’s response to the motion. Another thing: Why is the government concerned about this ruling when they attest that section 1021 does nothing more than affirm what is already established under the AUMF of 2001? The Presidents own signing statement on section 1021 said that the section is unnecessary. There is something strange going on here. Why waste time and resources fighting for something that you believe is unnecessary? Why do you care if a statute that simply affirms existing law is enjoined?

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