International Law

D.C. Circuit Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction in Abdullah v. Obama

By Jane Chong
Friday, April 4, 2014, 12:52 PM

The D.C. Circuit has just handed down a 12-page decision in Abdullah v. Obama, affirming the district court's denial of Abdullah's motion to enjoin the U.S. government from detaining him. Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah, a Yemeni national, claimed his detention at Guantanamo violates a 1946 executive agreement between the U.S. and Yemen. He filed for habeas in 2005, and when the district court did not act on the petition, sought a preliminary injunction in 2010.

Writing for herself and Senior Judges Randolph and Williams, Judge Henderson found that (1) Abdullah has not made a “clear showing” that he is entitled to the requested declaration ("Even accepting arguendo, first, his claim that indefinite detention violates the Yemen Agreement and, second, that he may enforce the protections of the Agreement in court, he has not demonstrated he is likely to succeed on his habeas petition because he has not shown that his detention is indefinite or otherwise illegal."); (2) he has not demonstrated that the remaining preliminary injunction factors weigh in his favor; and (3) his request for relief enjoining his allegedly unlawful conditions of confinement has been forfeited.

Senior Judge Randolph filed a paragraph-long concurring opinion, which Judge Henderson joined. Here it is the concurrence its entirety, disagreeing with the core of Judge Tatel's decision in Aamer v. Obama. Senior Judge Williams, who authored the dissent in Aamer, did not join.

I concur in the court’s opinion but if the slate were clean I would be with Judge Williams and would hold that a habeas corpus petition cannot be used to challenge conditions of confinement at Guantanamo. See Aamer v. Obama, 742 F.3d 1023, 1044 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (Williams, J., dissenting).

For background on the case, see Wells's recap of the January 21, 2014 oral argument.