WHAT THE SUPREME COURT SAYS ABOUT THE KUWAITI PRISONERS IN GUANTANAMO: AL-ODAH V. UNITED STATES, RASUL V. BUSH, AND HAMDI V. RUMSFELD
“…a state of war is not a blank check for the president…”
--Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, June 28, 2004
The United States Supreme Court has declared in three separate cases that the Guantanamo detainees are entitled to trial, and that their fundamental rights have been compromised.
These rights cover U.S. citizens and non-citizens. Furthermore, the Court has ruled that, even if Guantanamo Bay were to be understood as foreign soil, all rights would still apply.
|On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court ruled (read supreme court ruling) that the Bush administration's use of military tribunals to try detainees at GuantanamoBay was illegal. In a 5-3 decision, the Court argued that the commissions set up in GuantanamoBay violated both the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Court also ruled that the federal government does not have the authority to establish tribunals which are not sanctioned by the "laws of war."
In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in al-Odah v. United States that the Guantanamo prisoners have fundamental habeas corpus rights. In a 6-to-3 opinion, the Court found that the right to habeas corpus can be exercised in “all ... dominions under the sovereign's control.” [link to full case]
In June, 2004, the Court ruled in Rasul v. Bush that the right to habeas corpus is not dependent on citizenship status. In a 6-to-3 opinion, the Court found the detainees were free to bring suits challenging their detention as unconstitutional. [link to full case]
In June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that citizens held as “enemy combatants” are entitled to a fair trial. In an opinion backed by a four-justice plurality and partly joined by two other justices, the Court ruled that, although Congress authorized the detention, the Fifth Amendment guarantees the right to contest that detention before a neutral decision-maker. [link to full case]
The Guantanamo prisoners have been strongly supported, not only in the media [link], but by important neutral groups and individuals who have filed arguments (“amicus briefs”) with the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Amicus Curiae Brief filed by Helen Duffy of The International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights (INTERIGHTS) and William J. Aceves, Professor of Law at California Western School of Law, on behalf of the Kuwaiti Detainees. The brief explains the international law regime and articulates the human rights that should be accorded the Detainees, even in times of conflict.