Friday, June 13, 2008
Yesterday we wrote you to share the news as soon as we heard about our tremendous victory in the Supreme Court and to thank you for all your support. Today, after having a few more hours to digest the ruling and the stinging rebuke it provides to the Bush administration's failed detention policies, we've produced a more detailed legal analysis for those of you who are interested.
Yesterday, June 12, the Supreme Court ruled in an historic decision in Boumediene v. Bush/Al Odah v. United States that the detainees at Guantánamo Bay have a constitutional right to habeas corpus, to challenge their detention before a neutral judge in a real court. The men at Guantánamo have been struggling for this basic right to be recognized since 2002, when the first prisoners were brought to Guantánamo Bay, and when CCR's first challenge to their detention was filed. In 2004, in Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court upheld the detainees' statutory right to habeas corpus, and in 2006, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the high court rejected the Bush administration's framework for military commissions and upheld the rights of the detainees under the Geneva Conventions.
In the decision, the Court strongly criticized the President and Congress's attempt to declare that because Guantánamo was outside the sovereign territory of the United States, the Constitution did not apply. The Court firmly stated that "To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say 'what the law is.'" Furthermore, the Supreme Court held that the procedures created by the Detainee Treatment Act were not an adequate substitute for real habeas hearings and emphasized that the length of our clients' detention required an end to further delays.
Now, moving forward from this historic victory for Executive accountability, we hope that the lower courts will quickly move to hold hearings in the over 200 pending individual habeas corpus cases where detainees are challenging their indefinite detention without charges. We anticipate that many of these cases will be decided swiftly because the government lacks any factual or legal basis for imprisoning the men. Without this decision these men might have remained in detention forever without ever having a real chance to argue for their release before an impartial court. With habeas these men - so many of whom have been officially cleared for release by the military - would never have been locked up and abused because no court was watching. We believe the majority of them will be released once the executive is forced to show up in front of a federal judge and justify their detention with hard evidence.
The attorneys at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who, alongside our co-counsel, have been representing the men at Guantánamo for over six years, have produced a brief analysis of the decision and its implications. Please visit CCR's website to read this timely analysis of a critical Supreme Court decision and an important victory for the Constitution against the lawlessness and impunity of the Bush administration.