In Boumediene v. Bush, a decision of the United States Supreme Court released today, the Court ruled in favour of Guantanamo detainees, finding they "have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. They are not barred from seeking the writ or invoking the Suspension Clause’s protections because they have been designated as enemy combatants or because of their presence at Guantanamo."
In affirming the entitlement of detainees to assert habeas challenges in U.S. courts, the Supreme Court dealt a historic blow to the wartime policies of the Bush administration.
The commentary that follows is from Robert Ambrogi's Legal Blog Watch:
The 5-4 ruling was, as Lyle Denniston wrote at SCOTUSblog, "a stunning blow to the Bush Administration." American Bar Association president William Neukom said the decision "reaffirms the vision of our founders, and helps restore the credibility of the United States as a leading advocate and model for the rule of law across the globe." Kathryn Kolbert, president of People for the American Way, described it as a rebuke of "President Bush's vision of the presidency as an office of limitless power." And here is what the court, itself, had to say, in the words of Justine Kennedy's majority opinion:We hold that petitioners may invoke the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus. The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.
Mauro at The BLT writes that the U.S. District Court in Washington, which now has habeas jurisdiction over the detainees as a result of today's ruling, is already responding to the decision. As many as 200 detainees have filed habeas petitions, and many were being held pending the outcome of Boumediene.
Not surprisingly, President Bush disagreed with the ruling, according to an Associated Press report:
ROME - President Bush on Thursday strongly disagreed with a Supreme Court ruling that clears foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts. Bush suggested new legislation may now be needed to keep the American people safe.
"We'll abide by the court's decision," Bush said during a news conference in Rome. "That doesn't mean I have to agree with it... It was a deeply divided court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented," Bush said. "And that dissent was based upon their serious concerns about U.S. national security."
Bush said his administration will study the ruling. "We'll do this with this in mind — to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate so we can safely say to the American people, 'We're doing everything we can to protect you.'"
- Garry J. Wise, Toronto