The Supreme Court ruled today that “foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.” The AP reports:
The justices, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday, handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts “criticized his colleagues for striking down what he called ‘the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.'”
,SCOTUSBlog calls the ruling “a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies” because it found 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.”