BREAKING: Supreme Court Rules Bush Overstepped His Authority At Guantanamo

In a 5–3 decision (Chief Justice Roberts abstaining), the Supreme Court ruled that President Bush did not have authority to set up military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, finding the “military commissions” illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention. The opinion of the Court, written by Justice John Paul Stevens, declares that “the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction.”

UPDATE I: The AP has more: “The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.”

UPDATE II: SCOTUSBlog has the voting breakdown: “The main opinion [was] written by Justice John Paul Stevens. That opinion was supported in full by Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David H. Souter. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote separately, in an opinion partly joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter…Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, the dissenters, each wrote an opinion.” Read the opinions (pdf).UPDATE III: From SCOTUSBlog: “The Court appears to have held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today’s ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons ‘shall in all circumstances be treated humanely,’ and that ‘[t]o this end,’ certain specified acts ‘are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever’””including ‘cruel treatment and torture,’ and ‘outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.’ This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment. … This almost certainly means that the CIA’s interrogation regime is unlawful.

UPDATE IV: “Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a strongly worded dissent and took the unusual step of reading part of it from the bench something he had never done before in his 15 years. He said the court’s decision would ‘sorely hamper the president’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy.’” Justice Breyer responded in the opinion that Bush should consult with Congress to receive specific authority, and doing so, would strengthen the nation’s ability to deals with threats:


Nothing prevents the President from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary. Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation’s ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation’s ability to determine””through democratic means””how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in thosedemocratic means. Our Court today simply does the same.