Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
01:59 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
22 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
International
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Judge who issued NSA ruling often bucks executive
Associated Press
This undated handout photo provided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows Richard Leon. (AP Photo/U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)
This undated handout photo provided by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia shows Richard Leon. (AP Photo/U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)
A+ A-

WASHINGTON: Richard Leon, the judge who declared that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of millions of Americans' telephone records is likely unconstitutional, has a long record of taking on executive branch actions.

Leon, a blunt-spoken, bowtie-wearing appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, has ruled against the federal agencies on issues from drugs used for executions to warnings on cigarette packages.

The 64-year-old judge writes with flair, occasionally using exclamation marks to amplify a point. In a 2009 ruling ordering the release of a Guantanamo detainee, he wrote in response to a government argument, "I disagree!" In Monday's ruling, he wrote that "there is the very real prospect that the (NSA) program will go on for as long as America is combatting terrorism, which realistically could be forever!"

His bluntness was on display at a hearing in the NSA case last month, before he decided how he would rule.

"I mean, I am not kidding myself," he told both parties, predicting the case would go to the Court of Appeals and probably the Supreme Court after that. "It doesn't matter, however I rule."

At a previous hearing, Leon admonished a government lawyer who noted that a deadline set by the judge fell on a federal holiday.

"We work 24/7 around this courthouse, my friend, 24/7," Leon said. "I don't want to hear anything about vacations, weddings, days off. Forget about it. This is a case at the pinnacle of public national interest, pinnacle. All hands 24/7. No excuses."

He has decided several Guantanamo Bay cases, including one in 2008 in which he ordered the release of five detainees after concluding that the government's evidence linking the men to al-Qaida was not credible as it came from a single, unidentified source.

"To allow enemy combatancy to rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court's obligation," Leon said.

But in a ruling the following year, Leon said the government could continue to hold an assistant cook for Taliban fighters.

"After all, as Napoleon himself was fond of pointing out, an army marches on its stomach," Leon said in issuing the ruling.

Leon, a graduate of Harvard Law School, had previous stints including the Justice Department, Capitol Hill and private practice before joining the court in 2002.

Bobby Burchfield, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery who has known Leon since his days on Capitol Hill, said he wasn't surprised that Leon would be willing to issue a ruling that would have a big impact on the government.

"He comes from a prosecutorial background, so it isn't that he has it in for the government," Burchfield said in a telephone interview. "Knowing him, I give him the benefit of the doubt that he looked at it carefully and found something that bothered him."

Last year, Leon blocked the importation of a drug used in executions, ruling that the Food and Drug Administration ignored the law in allowing it into the U.S. "Few in our society are more vulnerable than a death row inmate facing lethal injection," he wrote.

In another ruling, he blocked a federal requirement that would have forced U.S. tobacco companies to put large graphic images on their cigarette packages to show the dangers of smoking, ruling that it violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that covers free speech.

 
Home International
 
     
 
United States of America
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS