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Today the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the President, acting alone, lacks the power to detain an American citizen seized on U.S. soil outside a zone of combat.

This historic judgment affirms the right of every American to be free from arbitrary confinement without due process of law. The President is not an absolute monarch. He does not have the unilateral authority to lock people up and throw away the key.

The crimes of which Jose Padilla stands accused are serious offenses, but the orderly processes of the criminal law are more than adequate to deal with them. We can prevail over terrorism without abandoning the values we are fighting to protect.

Related stories:

In Context: Padilla v. Rumsfeld, December 18, 2003
Excerpt: Gherebi v. Bush Decision, December 18, 2003

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