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January 21, 2010

Yesterday, a federal judge issued a decision in our free speech case on behalf of a former Gitmo prosecutor that was, well, good and bad.

Earlier this month the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of former Guantánamo chief prosecutor Col. Morris Davis, charging the Library of Congress violated his rights when it fired him from his job at the Library’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) because of opinion pieces he wrote — in his personal capacity — about the Guantánamo military commissions system. After the pieces ran in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, Davis was removed from his position as the Assistant Director of the Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division at CRS and installed in a temporary, 30-day position, which expired yesterday.

In anticipation of that date, the ACLU asked Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to issue an immediate injunction to compel the Library to reinstate Davis to his former job and to block it from hiring a permanent replacement for that position in the interim. Judge Walton’s decision was disappointing, but not all bad.

Importantly, the judge seemed to agree with what we’ve been saying all along — that the Library of Congress likely violated Davis’s rights when it fired him. That’s good. It gives us hope that things will be made right in the future.

However, the judge denied Davis’s request for an immediate injunction, finding that Davis had not demonstrated the irreparable injury necessary for an injunction. That’s bad. Col. Davis is now without a job.

According to Aden Fine, lead lawyer on the case:

“While we’re disappointed that the court missed a chance to immediately right this wrong, the court’s ruling makes clear that the facts presented to it show that the Library likely violated Col. Davis’s rights when it fired him for exercising free speech. We look forward to the day when Col. Davis’s rights are restored.”

Col. Davis said:

“While I’m disappointed that the Court didn’t immediately take the necessary steps to right this wrong and stop the Library from firing me, I am hopeful the ultimate outcome of this case will recognize my right to free expression. I will continue the fight to get my job at CRS back, although it’s a fight I never should have had to undertake.”

The lawsuit is ongoing. Stay tuned!

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