Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nasser al-Aulaqi's Suit Dismissed

Judge Bates today dismissed Nasser al-Aulaqi's suit on behalf of his son, American-Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, for want of standing. Nasser, Anwar's father, had asserted "next friend" standing, which affords family members the ability to bring suit on behalf of an individual unable to access the courts--next friend standing is particularly relevant in habeas corpus petitions. Al-Aulaqi asserted that he satisfied next friend standing because his son is in hiding under threat of death and could therefore not access US courts. The government, on the other hand, argued that Anwar al-Aulaqi could in fact access US courts by presenting and surrendering himself to a US embassy in Yemen. Judge Bates wrote
Plaintiff has failed to provide an adequate explanation for his son's inability to appear on his own behalf, which is fatal to plaintiff's attempt to establish "next friend" standing.3 In his complaint, plaintiff maintains that his son cannot bring suit on his own behalf because he is "in hiding under threat of death" and any attempt to access counsel or the courts would "expos[e] him[] to possible attack by Defendants." Compl. ¶ 9; see also id. ¶ 26; Al-Aulaqi Decl. ¶ 10. But while Anwar Al-Aulaqi may have chosen to "hide" from U.S. law enforcement authorities, there is nothing preventing him from peacefully presenting himself at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen and expressing a desire to vindicate his constitutional rights in U.S. courts. Defendants have made clear -- and indeed, both international and domestic law would require -- that if Anwar Al-Aulaqi were to present himself in that manner, the United States would be "prohibit[ed] [from] using lethal force or other violence against him in such circumstances."

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