Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: June 18th, 2008
The Supreme Court ... delivered its third consecutive rebuff to the Bush administrations handling of the detainees at Guantnamo Bay, ruling 5 to 4 that the prisoners there have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention. The court declared unconstitutional a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that ... stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the detainees seeking to challenge their designation as enemy combatants. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said the truncated review procedure provided by a previous law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, falls short of being a constitutionally adequate substitute because it failed to offer the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus. Justice Kennedy declared: The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. The decision, which was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen G. Breyer, was categorical in its rejection of the administrations basic arguments. Indeed, the court repudiated the fundamental legal basis for the administrations strategy, adopted in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, of housing prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere at the United States naval base in Cuba, where Justice Department lawyers advised the White House that domestic law would never reach.
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