NEW YORK (CNN) # In a setback to the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the president does not have the power to detain an American citizen seized on U.S. soil as an enemy combatant.
In a 65-page decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 that the U.S. government must release Jose Padilla from military custody within 30 days.
“The government can transfer Padilla to appropriate civilian authorities who can bring criminal charges against him,” the order said.
Padilla has been held in a South Carolina naval brig for the past year and a half.
“It’s reassuring that constitutional protections that we are all entitled to as citizens were confirmed. And we look forward to meeting our client,” said attorney Donna Newman.
The U.S. government could ask for a stay of the order or ask the full panel of the appeals court to hear the case.