The good news is that the Supreme Court vacated the lower-court ruling that the President is allowed to indefinitely detain individuals who are legal residents of the United States, like Ali al-Marri. The bad news is that the SCOTUS did not opt to take up the case themselves, and thus set a precedent against indefinite detention, instead approving the transfer of al-Marri to civilian custody awaiting trial.
The ACLU wanted this case to go to the Supreme Court, so we could get a definitive ruling that indefinite detention of this sort is illegal and unconstitutional. Sadly, we won't.
Jonathan Hafetz of the American Civil Liberties Union, Al-Marri’s lead lawyer, called the order vacating the lower court decision an “important step,” and added: “We trust that the Obama Administration will not repeat the abuses of the Bush Administration, having now chosen to prosecute Mr. Al-Marri in federal court rather than defend the Bush Administration’s actions in this case.”
The Justice Department had no immediate comment on the Justices’ order. That order spares the new Administration from having to take a formal position on the detention issue that was at stake.
It would be nice, however, to have that ruling for posterity instead of putting our trust in successive Presidents.