The Supreme Court has ruled that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the U.S. Constitution to challenge their detention in civilian courts.
The justices, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday, handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
The Associated Press:
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts “criticized his colleagues for striking down what he called ‘the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.’”
Whose legal mind will go down as being more true to the American way? Kennedy or Roberts? If you said Roberts, you haven't been paying attention...
[BG has an update after the jump.]
The SCOTUSblog - the bet source for information and analysis about the Supreme Court and what those black-robed rascals are up to - has this to say about the ruling:
In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention. The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights. If Congress wishes to suspend habeas, it must do so only as the Constitution allows — when the country faces rebellion or invasion.This is huge. This is the third strike. This is the unraveling of the bu$h administration. The Constitution is off the vent and breathing on its own once more. But I am still pissed off that it was a 5-4 decision.
The Court stressed that it was not ruling that the detainees are entitled to be released — that is, entitled to have writs issued to end their confinement. That issue, it said, is left to the District Court judges who will be hearing the challenges. The Court also said that “we do not address whether the President has authority to detain” individuals during the war on terrorism, and hold them at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba; that, too, it said, is to be considered first by the District judges.
And while that was the biggest news, there was another Habeas ruling today. In a unanimous ruling, the justices found that U.S. citizens held by U.S. military forces in Iraq have a right to file habeas cases, because it does extend to them. In the second part of that ruling, the justices found that federal judges do not have any authority to bar the transfer of those individuals to Iraqi authorities to face prosecution or punishment for crimes committed in that country in violation of Iraqi laws.
The unraveling of the bu$h administration is underway. Bob Gates wins and everyone else in this administration loses - and the biggest loser of all? Dick Cheney.