Some early reaction to today's Supreme Court ruling. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUS blog:
In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention. The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights. If Congress wishes to suspend habeas, it must do so only as the Constitution allows when the country faces rebellion or invasion.
The Court stressed that it was not ruling that the detainees are entitled to be released that is, entitled to have writs issued to end their confinement. That issue, it said, is left to the District Court judges who will be hearing the challenges. The Court also said that “we do not address whether the President has authority to detain” individuals during the war on terrorism, and hold them at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba; that, too, it said, is to be considered first by the District judges.
At first glance, it would appear that although the decision is momentous, there are other important things that it does not do:
It does not speak to whether GTMO should be closed (although it basically undermines the Administration's principal reason for using GTMO in the first place, which was to keep the courts from reviewing the legality of the Executive's conduct).
Nor does it affect, in any dramatic sense, possible military commission trials -- with the important exception that it invites the defendants in those trials to raise constitutional defenses, such as under the Ex Post Facto Clause.
Based on a very quick skim, it looks the Court's opinion in Boumediene v. Bush is pretty much exactly what I predicted would happen in my Senate testimony over a year ago. Nothing I've seen in the Court's opinion so far is at all surprising, and it's a big defeat for the Bush Administration. This doesn't mean I have some amazing powers of observation; rather, I think this was a defeat that you could see coming from miles (or in this case, years) away.
That sound you hear is six years of Republican bullshit being flushed down the drain, followed by the inevitable wailing from the Malkin wing of the GOP...
Speaking of which, here's Malkin's reaction:
I’m reminded of what one DHS source pointed out to me when the high court ruled in favor of habeas corpus rights four years ago: “Hmm, now that the Gitmo detainees are entitled to habeas challenges and hearings by American courts and American judges, I wonder how long before they and their lawyers claim that they are entitled to asylum hearings as well?”
Won’t be long now!
And Ed Morrissey's:
It seems absurd to apply criminal law to unlawful combatants captured during hostilities abroad. Will they require a Miranda reading, too? Do we have to bring the soldiers and Marines who captured them to the trial? In our 232-year history, when have we ever allowed that kind of access to enemy combatants not captured inside the US itself?
Mark Levin uses the ruling to take a jab at McCain:
The 5-4 GITMO decision brings to the front, yet again, John McCain’s position on judges versus his own policies. McCain undoubtedly supports the 5-4 decision, yet the justices who voted against it, and argued strenuously against it, are of the kind McCain claims to want on the bench. We have seen the same issue arise respecting campaign finance. This is not to say that McCain won’t nominate originalists to the bench. But if he does, he will be nominating to the Court individuals who are better adherents to the Constitution than he is.
Obviously a lot to digest, but my first question is: would this ruling apply to detainees held outside of Guantanamo? I haven't read the full ruling yet, but at first glance, it seems that today's decision might provide a blanket precedent for all detainees currently being held by the U.S. military regardless of physical location, and possibly including clandestine detention programs that have yet to be publicly disclosed. There has been quite a bit of press recently regarding these "ghost detention facilities," including military prison ships floating at sea as well as the use of Diego Garcia as more remote version of Guantanamo, virtually hidden from the public eye and media scrutiny by thousands of miles of sea.
Suzanne Ito at the ACLU's blog:
Remember this day: it’s the beginning of the end for Guantánamo.
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