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Supreme Court Favors Habeas Corpus for Guantanamo Detainees

By June 13, 2008

In a vote of 5-4 on June 12, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo detainees can challenge their detention in court. Habeas corpus, the right of an accused to challenge the charges against him, was suspended for Guantanamo Bay detainees by the 2006 Military Commissions Act. The act established special military courts, and special rules to govern them. To enable the act, the Administration made the argument that these detainees are not being held on U.S. soil, and are not entitled to the full privileges of due processes because of their status as ‘enemy combatants.’ The consequences are unclear for the 270 remaining detainees, or for those, like Khaled Sheikh Mohammad, who are already in the process of being tried under the tribunal system.

The LA Times has compiled an informative article on what the ruling will mean for Guantanamo prisoners.

For more reading on Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror, check out readings by U.S. Politics guide Kathy Gill.


June 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm
(1) KYJurisDoctor says:

While I AGREE with the U. S. Supreme Court’s “GITMO” majority opinion that “all enemy combatants detained during a war, at least insofar as they are confined in an area away from the battlefield, [but] over which the United States exercises ‘absolute and indefinite’ control, may seek a writ of habeas corpus in federal court,” I also AGREE with Chief Justice Roberts (and his fellow dissenters) that the Writ can be suspended in time of war, such as the war on terror that we find ourselves involved in right now, and that suspension power belongs to Congress, such as Congress has exercised in this case, “as the Constitution surely allows Congress to [wield].”

June 13, 2008 at 2:33 pm
(2) mbjesq says:

This is a great day for American constitutionalism. It is shocking, however, that four-ninths of the United States Supreme Court find compelling justification to imprison innocent men (i.e., those who might be exonerated at trial) for life without a constitutionally recognized judicial hearing.

My take on Boumediene v. Bush is posted here.

June 15, 2008 at 10:00 am
(3) Amy says:

Thank you for your comments. The question of the legitimacy of suspending habeas corpus does indeed seem to turn on the question of whether the U.S. is at war, as you point out KYJurisDoctor. The fact that this question is not easily answered is itself a provocative point about these times.

mbjesq–your point is well taken, too, especially given the murky circumstances of some of the detainees captures in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some had loose relationships to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, at best.

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