Attorney who defended Guantanamo law to leave

A U.S. Army guard stands in a corridor of cells in Camp Five, a detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba September 4, 2007. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Paul Clement, who defended President George W. Bush’s policies restricting the legal rights of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners, is resigning as the administration’s top lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Justice Department said on Wednesday.

It said Clement, who has been solicitor general since June 2005, notified Bush and Attorney General Michael Mukasey of his plans to leave on June 2.

As solicitor general and previously as the top deputy in that office, Clement defended Bush’s policies adopted after the September 11 attacks, including those affecting the terrorism suspects held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

In December, Clement argued before the Supreme Court that the Guantanamo prisoners do not have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. district court.

He urged the justices to uphold a law that Bush pushed through the Republican-led Congress in 2006 that took away the habeas corpus rights of the terrorism suspects to seek judicial review of their imprisonment.

The Supreme Court’s decision in that case is expected by the end of its current term, which lasts through June. Oral arguments for the term ended last month.

A number of Bush appointees have said they are leaving the Justice Department ahead of the November presidential election and the change in administration in January.

“Now that oral arguments for the Supreme Court term are finished, departing in June gives him the chance to spend some time with his family for an entire summer when his three sons are not in school,” a department spokesman said, adding that Clement has no specific plans on what he will do next.

Reporting by James Vicini, editing by David Wiessler