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Court Dismisses Targeted Killing Case, Does Not Comment on Merits

Common Dreams - A federal court today acknowledged the serious issues raised by a lawsuit challenging the Obama administration's targeted killing policy, but dismissed the case on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have legal standing to challenge the targeting of his son, and that the case raised "political questions" not subject to court review. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in August, charging that the administration's asserted authority to execute U.S. citizens outside combat zones who do not pose an imminent threat violates the U.S. Constitution and international law. The judge did not rule on the merits of the case.

Despite granting the government's motion to dismiss the case, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called the case "unique and extraordinary," said it presented "[s]tark, and perplexing, questions" and found that the merits "present fundamental questions of separation of powers involving the proper role of the courts in our constitutional structure." Ultimately, however, he dismissed the case on procedural grounds and found that "the serious issues regarding the merits of the alleged authorization of the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen overseas must await another day..."

"If the court's ruling is correct, the government has unreviewable authority to carry out the targeted killing of any American, anywhere, whom the president deems to be a threat to the nation," said Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU. Read more.

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