JACL joined an amicus brief in the case of Bahlul v. United States, as one of several supporting Asian American/Pacific Islander organizations. The brief, which will be submitted in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, makes a doctrinal and historical argument that the Military Commissions Act used to prosecute Guantanamo detainees violates equal protection because it creates a separate and inferior system of criminal justice exclusively reserved for non-citizens. It draws historical parallels to the discriminatory policies that led to the internment of Japanese Americans and other shameful episodes in American history.
JACL joined an nearly-identical amicus brief as the lead amicus two years ago in Hamdan v. United States (Hamdan II). The court did not reach the equal protection issue in that case because it decided the case on other grounds, but the D.C. Circuit has now indicated it will reach that issue in the Bahlul case. The D.C. Circuit issued an en banc opinion on July 14, affirming Bahlul’s conspiracy conviction against an ex post facto challenge, but remanding the remaining issues – including the equal protection challenge – to the original panel.