Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kudos to the ACLU for Davis Suit

Sometimes the ACLU takes on cases that I disapprove.  This is not one of those times.


CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

col-morris-davis NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit against the Library of Congress on behalf of Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions, who was terminated from his job at the Library's Congressional Research Service (CRS) because of opinion pieces he wrote about the military commissions system. The lawsuit charges that CRS violated Davis's right to free speech and due process when it fired him for speaking as a private citizen about matters having nothing to do with his responsibilities at CRS.

"Col. Davis has a constitutional right to speak about issues of which he has expert knowledge, and the public has a right to hear from him," said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "Col. Davis's firsthand experience is invaluable to the ongoing debate over military commissions, and the public should not be denied the chance to hear from him just because he is a public employee."

After 25 years in the United States Air Force, Davis resigned from his position as chief prosecutor in the military commissions in October 2007 because of his belief that the system was fundamentally flawed. He then became a vocal critic of the commissions, writing articles, giving speeches and testifying before Congress. In December 2008, Davis began working as the Assistant Director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at CRS, a position that is not related to the military commissions.

On November 11, 2009, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece and the Washington Post published a letter to the editor in which Davis argued against having a two-tiered system of justice in which some Guantánamo detainees are tried in military commissions and others in federal courts. Both pieces were written by Davis in his personal capacity, made clear that he was writing as a private individual and former chief prosecutor of the military commissions and made no mention of CRS. Davis wrote the pieces on his home computer during non-work hours. In meetings that followed, Davis's supervisor at CRS, Daniel Mulhollan, informed Davis that as a result of the pieces his employment would be terminated. Davis was transferred to a temporary 30-day position at CRS, which will expire on January 20.

"My status as the former chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay and my opinions on that subject are completely unrelated to my position at CRS and totally separate from my duties there, and they don't interfere with my ability to do my job," said Davis. "The work that CRS does is incredibly valuable and I am proud of the opportunity to continue serving my country after a career in the military. I hope to be reinstated to my original position so I can continue to support Congress at this critical time in our nation's history."

In response to a letter from the ACLU in December, the Library of Congress stated that it would not reinstate Davis to his job at CRS. Today's lawsuit seeks to reinstate Davis to his position and to reaffirm that governmental employees, including employees of the Library of Congress, may not be terminated for speaking in their private capacities on matters of great public concern.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit against James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, and Mulhollan in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Attorneys on the case are Fine, Alexander Abdo and Jameel Jaffer of the national ACLU and Arthur Spitzer and Frederick Mulhauser of the ACLU of the National Capital Area.

The ACLU's complaint is available online at: www.aclu.org/free-speech/davis-v-billington-complaint

More information about the case is available online at: www.aclu.org/free-speech/davis-v-billington

[emphasis added]

Inserted from <ACLU>

Like I said, I don’t always agree, but I’m proud to be a member of the ACLU.


Lisa G. said...

I don't always agree with their involvement in some cases, but this is not one of them. They are equally fair and for me, held in the highest regard. I didn't like that they took Rush's case, but they did the right thing. I'll defend his right to spout whatever shite he wants. Notice, he doesn't rag on them anymore. :)

I'm proud to be a member as well.

TomCat said...

Thst's the case that came to mind for me as well.

TOM said...

In the end, the law does keep us honest. It just takes awhile.

otis said...

I should be a member. I don't agree with the subject matter of the cases, but I would say the vast majority of the cases filed.

I should become a member because I do agree with their suits so many times. If I ever saw the Nazis do a parade and a soldier (former or serving) ever asked "I went to war for this?" My response would be: "Yes, you did. And thank you for it. Not for them, but for their ability to express their views without legal retribution."

For every idiot that the ACLU has to defend, there are more important reasons than the idiot that forced the issue. And it is usually far beyond that idiot's understanding *cough cough Rush cough cough* Sorry. It is cold and flu season.

TomCat said...

Tom, I wish Republicans knew that.

Otis, when governments take rights away from ALL people, the test it on the least sympatheric case they can find in the hope that disapproval of the individual will overcome the recognition that, if the unsympathetic defndent gets screwed, the rest of us are next,