Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that military commission Judge Vance Spath lacked authority to hold Chief Defense Counsel John Baker in contempt for disobeying an order last year. The full decision is below.
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration revived the long stagnant precedent of Ex Parte Quirin to establish military commission trials for individuals detained during the Global War on Terror. Ever since, the administration, Congress, and the courts have been working out the details of the system, litigating the details on statutory, constitutional, and policy grounds, and struggling to bring key terrorist figures to trial. The Obama administration has been less than enthusiastic about pursuing charges using military commissions, though it has pursued some, and some of these trials have already dragged on for years.