Thursday, June 12, 2008

Justices Rule Guantanamo Detainees Have Right To Pursue Habeas

Great news for the great writ.

In a (very very sadly predictable) 5-4 opinion written by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195 held that Guantanamo detainees can pursue habeas petitions in federal district court. This is the same set of cases that the Court originally refused to hear and then later changed their mind.

As far as my 3 30 minute skimming of the opinion has alerted me, the opinion doesn't hold that the constitution applies to Gitmo detainees, but rather than Congress' attempt to suspend the writ ran afoul of the constitution holds that the constitution does apply to the detainees at Gitmo. This opinion won't change any of the on-going military commission trials. Rather, detainees will have the ability to challenge any determinations made in those trials by petition for writ of habeas corpus. As the opinion does conclude that the constitution applies at Guantanamo, detainees are also likely to use other parts of the constitution (ex post facto?) during their trials or in the petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Go civil liberties!!! I'll update (probably likely) as I actually read the thing. But very big news in the ongoing civil liberties v. national security debate.

NYT article
Scotusblog preliminary analysis

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