June 13, 2008
Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts
By DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON - Foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba have constitutional rights to challenge their detention there in United States courts, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, on Thursday in a historic decision on the balance between personal liberties and national security.
"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court.
The ruling came in the latest battle between the executive branch, Congress and the courts over how to cope with dangers to the country in the post-9/11 world. Although there have been enough rulings addressing that issue to confuse all but the most diligent scholars, this latest decision, in Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195, may be studied for years to come...click here for link
Democrats sieze on opportunity: click here for link
Congressional Democrats seized on a Supreme Court ruling Thursday morning that gives suspected terrorists held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay the right to challenge their detention in federal court, thus injecting new life into the long-running debate over the controversial detention facility.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the Court for "uphold[ing] the constitution of the United States" and reiterated her desire to see Gitmo shut down.
Other Democrats quickly followed suit after the court ruled 5-4 that the U.S. military lacks the legal authority to prosecute as many as 300 prisoners. The detainees sued the government to contest their imprisonment and the current rules used to try them in military tribunals.
"Today's Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush is a stinging rebuke of the Bush administration's flawed detention policies," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), "and a vindication for those who have also argued from the beginning that it was unwise as well as unconstitutional."
The issue has often spilled over from the courts into the legislative branch. In 2006, Congress passed a law limiting the court jurisdiction to hear similar types of challenges.
"Time after time," says Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), "the Supreme Court has rebuffed the administration's attempts to undermine the Constitution."
"It is a testament to our system of government that the Court has rejected the habeas-stripping provisions of the Military Commissions Act and reaffirmed that the government does not have the power to detain people indefinitely and arbitrarily without judicial review."
As of noon Thursday, the White House had yet to release a statement on the ruling.