Neal Katyal, who once defended one of Osama Bin Laden’s closest associates, has been chosen to legally represent the state of Hawaii in its standoff against President Donald Trump’s amended executive order.
As an extension of Hawaii, Katyal officially motioned against Trump’s temporary stay on visa clearances from six predominantly Muslim countries, on Tuesday.
Notable changes to the presidential legislation include the erasure of Iraq from the list of countries barred from granting green cards, while residents of the remaining six countries will now be able to obtain visas on the basis of conditionality. Katyal intends to debate that the president’s newest order is no better than its predecessor.
In 2006, Katyal represented Samir Hamdan, Bin Laden’s former bodyguard in the famous Hamdan v. Rumsfeld docket. Katyal argued and eventually convinced the court that war criminals such as Hamdan were naturally subjected to inherit the same civil rights as green card holders.
In a snippet of his defense, Katyal argued the following on behalf of Samdan:
These trials are not “equal justice”: For the first time since equality was written into our Constitution, America has created one criminal trial for “us” and one for “them.”The rules for the Guantanamo trials apply only to foreigners—the millions of green-card holders and five billion people on the globe who are not American citizens. An American citizen, even one who commits the most horrible and treasonous act (such as the detonation of a weapon of mass destruction), gets the Cadillac version of justice—a criminal trial in federal court. Meanwhile, a green-card holder alleged to have committed a far less egregious offense gets the beat-up Chevy: a military commission at Guantanamo. Before that commission, that noncitizen will have few of the very rights America has championed abroad, and he can be sentenced to death.
Once the interim solicitor general of the U.S. and viewed as a potential Supreme Court justice under President Barack Obama, Katyal’s candidacy for the country’s highest domestic court soon fizzled. His past, some deemed, was unlikely to clear the Senate floor.
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