Carl Levin has been a senator representing Michigan since 1979. In legal circles, Carl Levin is best known for his role in the authorship of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA), which includes a controversial clause authorizing the indefinite detention of those suspected in aiding and abetting terrorist activities.
Carl Levin was one of several senators to work on the bill, which was passed in December 2011. Its critics charged that section 1021(b)(2) and is too vague in establishing the criteria for indefinite detention. In January of 2012, a coalition of interested parties filed suit over this bill against both the administration of President Barack Obama and members of Congress involved in its creation and passage.
The case was initially heard by the federal district court located in the southern district of New York. After hearing the case, the presiding judge issued an injunction nullifying this part of the NDAA bill. In her opinion, the judge noted that this part of the legislation could lead to violations of both the First Amendment right to free speech and the Fifth Amendment right to due process. The ruling went on to note that the government did not present a convincing case that the language on which Carl Levin had worked could not lead to abuses of authority and improper detention of journalists and others involved in investigations.
The Obama administration requested that this legislation by Carl Levin and others have the injunction against it lifted, claiming that this injunction would severely impeded the executive branch and the efficaciousness of the prosecution of the war on terror. However, the judge declined to lift the injunction. An appeal was then filed by the Manhattan US Attorney in federal appeals court.
Subsequently, an appeal hearing was held and a ruling issued against the Obama administration. In her opinion, the presiding judge wrote that the powers of the executive branch did not supercede the protection of citizens' constitutional rights, compelling her to find this part of the legislation authored by Carl Levin unconstitutional. The judge further wrote that no detentions could be made using this section of the law as justification and urged Congress to consider alternative legislation for the same purposes which would not violate constitutional rights.
The Obama administration again filed an appeal against this permanent injunction. The case was then transferred to the Second District Court of Appeals. In October of 2012, the Court made the decision that this law would remain in effect until the appeal had been investigated and a ruling issued. In its preliminary findings justifying this stay of the suspension of the injunction against the clause, the Court noted that it did not seem to affect the rights of domestic American citizens. The appeals court also noted that it believed the District Court had exceeded its authority in its previous injunction.