July 16, 2014 4th Circuit published opinion

Ameur v Gates

Ameur sued gates and other government officials alleging constitutional and statutory violations arising from his detention in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The district court ruled its subject matter jurisdiction was stripped by 28 USC 2241(e)(2) and dismissed the case. The panel affirmed. It held that while the supreme court held 2241(e)(1) an unconstitutional limitation on habeas relief, it did not address (e)(2), the reasoning about habeas corpus in that case was not applicable to (e)(2) which applies to other causes of action and the general statements in the majority opinion do provide a basis to invalidate (e)(2). The panel also rejected Ameur’s claim that (e)(2) is not severable. It held the provision is constitutional as Congress can bar causes of action when it can bar money damages which is the case here, does not mandate how an issue of fact should be determined, was rationally limited to aliens as Congress could conclude litigation by aliens would interfere with the war on terror and is not a bill of attainder as it does not punish anyone without a trial. The panel held that (e)(2) retains independent effectiveness even though some of the cross references therein are to now inoperative statutes as none of the references interfere with (e)(2)’s effectiveness. The panel finally held that congress would have wanted (e)(2) to remain in effect given the overriding objective to keep federal courts out of the issues relating to detainee treatment.

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