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Thursday, June 12, 2008

SCOTUS Releases Long-Awaited Habeas Decisions

The Supreme Court released two decisions – with mixed results – today regarding habeas corpus rights of those detained by the government in its “War on Terror”. In Boumediene v. Bush, the Court determined in a split 5-4 decision that those being held at Guantanamo have a constitutional right to pursue relief through federal habeas petitions. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said that “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

The four dissenters, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, took issue with this claim and in their written dissents said that the Court was overruling “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.” Justice Scalia, who read his dissent from the bench, said that “the nation will live to regret what the court has done today.”

Unfortunately, in the joint case of Munaf v. Geren and Geren v. Omar, the Court unanimously determined that United States citizens detained abroad by United States forces do have the right to petition for habeas relief in American courts, but that there is nothing stopping the U.S. government from turning them over to another government’s forces, in order to prevent their release.

Alliance for Justice released a statement this morning praising the Boumediene decision and warning that the delicate balance of the Supreme Court is further highlighted by this split decision. We will post a more in-depth analysis of today’s decisions later this afternoon. Stay tuned…

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