SCOTUS will hear Gitmo detainee cases


WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court, reversing course, agreed Friday to review whether Guantanamo Bay detainees may go to federal court to challenge their indefinite confinement.

The action, announced without comment along with other end-of-term orders, is a setback for the Bush administration. It had argued that a new law strips courts of their jurisdiction to hear detainee cases.

In April, the court turned down an identical request, although several justices indicated they could be persuaded otherwise.

The move is highly unusual.

The court did not indicate what changed the justices’ minds about considering the issue. But last week, lawyers for the detainees filed a statement from a military lawyer in which he described the inadequacy of the process the administration has put forward as an alternative to a full-blown review by civilian courts.

The White House continued to back its legal stance.

“We did not think that court review at this time was necessary, but we are confident in our legal position,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Thursday.

The White House continued to back its legal stance.

“We did not think that court review at this time was necessary, but we are confident in our legal position,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

‘A stunning victory’
“This is a stunning victory for the detainees,” said Eric M. Freedman, professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, who has been advising the detainees. “It goes well beyond what we asked for, and clearly indicates the unease up there” at the Supreme Court.

In February, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a key provision of a law the Bush administration pushed through Congress last year stripping federal courts of their ability to hear the detainees’ challenges to their confinement.

On April 2, the Supreme denied the detainees’ request to review the February appeals court ruling.

The detainees then petitioned the court to reconsider its denial.

Dismissing the petitions would be “a profound deprivation” of the prisoners’ right to speedy court review, lawyers for the detainees said.

The administration asked that the detainees’ Supreme Court petitions be thrown out.

Many of the 375 detainees have been held at Guantanamo for five years.

In recent months, the main arena in the legal battle over the detainees has been the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

‘The highest level of deference’
The appeals court is considering how to handle the detainees’ challenges to military tribunals that found them to be enemy combatants, which left them without any of the legal rights accorded prisoners of war.

The White House is considering closing Guantanamo and transferring some of the most dangerous suspects to a prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and a Navy brig in South Carolina.

The detainees’ attorneys want the appeals court to allow a broad inquiry questioning the accuracy and completeness of the evidence the tribunals gathered about the detainees, most of it classified.

The Justice Department has been seeking a limited review, saying that the findings of the military tribunals are “entitled to the highest level of deference.”

The White House has been weighing closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has brought global criticism of the Bush administration and condemnation from Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The cases are Boumediene v. Bush, 06-1195, and Al Odah v. U.S., 06-1196.

WaPo also has a writeup here. The last time this subject came up SCOTUS only had 3 of the necessary 4 Justices that wanted to review the case. True to form, Kennedy was on the fence. It is unclear if he flipflopped again. The question this time is why a Military Tribunal over our regular court system….EXACTLY..THANK YOU FOR SEEING THE ridiculousness of this situation created by the Asshat-in-Chief. This case won’t come before them until after October sadly..but its something to give us hope.

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About Dusty, hells most vocal bitch

I am a..brown Cali bitch that is quite the opinionated,political, pain-in-the-ass, in your face kinda girl that also loves baseball and music to a fault. Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.--Albert Einstein-*

Posted on June 29, 2007, in Due Process, GITMO, Habeus Corpus, SCOTUS, Torture. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Great minds, Dusty. 🙂 I’ll just restate my take on this here too.In light of recent decisions, many may look at this with deep skepticism, but I think there is reason to hope. The principal issues in their string of travesties have been social. While this one appears to be, it is not. Bush’s argument is that detainees do not have the right to challenge their custody under habeas corpus. That’s just the window dressing. The real issue in these cases is whether the executive branch or the judicial branch, namely the Supreme Court itself, has the authority to make habeas corpus determinations. In short, Bush is trying to implement the unitary executive theory, giving himself power over the Court itself. Ever since Marbury vs Madison (1803), the Court has been jealous over attempts to usurp their power, so it follows that they are not likely to surrender that power to the executive.

  2. Most folks I know that are left of center are very negative about this issue. But i tend to agree with you TomCat, SCOTUS will stand up if only to protect their own interests.

  3. i was stunned to hear of this. it seemed impossible, with the sharp turn to the right the court has taken on so many issues just recently. a little hope is bubbling within . . .

  4. BaB..the major player in this change of heart is Justice Kennedy. The publicity whore and attention whore that he is..he runs the court..not Roberts.

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