In yet another repurposing of June's Hobby Lobby ruling, Guantanamo detainee Walid Bin Attash is using the Supreme Court's decision to refuse female escorts within the prison. Bin Attash's decision to stay within his cell rather than be led by women guards to his counsel meetings could have unforeseen effects on his trial, in which he stands accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
As Jason Leopold at Vice reports:
Requiring Bin Attash "to have physical contact with female guards violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)," a 1993 federal law that protects a person's free exercise of religion, the 9/11 suspect's attorneys said in a statement Monday. "Prior to 2014, questions existed regarding RFRA's applicability to Guantanamo Bay detainees. Those questions were answered by the Supreme Court's recent decision, [which] conclusively establishes that the term 'person,' as used in RFRA, includes nonresident aliens" such as Bin Attash.
Guantanamo Prison recently introduced a new policy that requires guards (male or female) to have physical contact with "high-value detainees" whenever they're escorting them, a rule that's presented a problem in escorting detainees like Bin Attash, a devout Muslim who refuses to touch any woman who is not a relative.
Bin Attash, who faces the death penalty, has possibly damaged his prosecutors' case against him by choosing to stay in his cell rather than be physically led by a woman. Defense can now argue that their client was not given proper time for counsel.
"This will threaten the government's ability to seek death in this case," says Bin Attash's military-appointed attorney, Air Force Captain Michael Schwartz.. "A smart prosecutor would be on the phone with [Guantanamo officials] and saying, 'What the hell you are doing?'"
Guantanamo officials remain unmoved.
"The Department of Defense is an Equal opportunity employer," stated Guantanamo spokesman and Navy Captain Tom Gresback, implying that the female guards will remain in place.
This is the second time that a Guantanamo prisoner has used the Hobby Lobby ruling to claim that the detention center violated his religious rights. The Republicans must be thrilled.
Image via Getty.