Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Democrats surprised, caught off guard by 'framework' deal Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook MORE (D-Ill.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on the Justice Department to end its legal defense of the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Durbin sent a letter on Wednesday to Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandHouse passes bill to ensure abortion access in response to Texas law Delta pushes for national 'no fly' list of unruly passengers after banning 1,600 from flights Democrats demand more action from feds on unruly airline passengers MORE urging him to reconsider the department's positions defending the practice of holding terrorism suspects at the military prison without due process rights.
"The Department’s legal positions should reflect our nation’s commitment to liberty and the rule of law, recognizing that our nation is strongest when it adheres to its core values," Durbin wrote.
"Legal positions or arguments that may have once seemed justified to some in the aftermath of 9/11 must be viewed in light of current circumstances," he continued. "As we approach the 20th anniversary of those attacks and the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the Department should revisit its positions and arguments regarding the continued authority to detain men without charge or trial—and without due process—at Guantanamo."
A spokesman for Garland did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
Eleven of the 40 remaining Guantanamo detainees are awaiting transfer to other countries as the Biden administration aims to close the facility.
Last year, a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a legal challenge from one of the detainees, ruling that Guantanamo's prisoners do not have due process rights under the Constitution.
That ruling is being reviewed by the full D.C. Circuit, with oral arguments set for Sept. 30. The Department of Justice (DOJ) faces a Friday deadline to file a brief staking out its position in the case.
Durbin urged Garland on Wednesday to use the opportunity to reverse DOJ's position on the facility.
"It is well past time for the Department to reconsider its approach to the applicability of the basic safeguards of due process to the men who remain imprisoned without charge or trial at Guantanamo, as well as other positions that help perpetuate this moral stain on our nation," Durbin wrote.