Skip to comments.US top court to decide Guantanamo cases
Posted on 11/10/2003 1:15:12 PM PST by kkindt
US top court to decide Guantanamo cases Mon 10 November, 2003 19:37 RELATED ARTICLES Guantanamo prisoners' advocates hail Supreme Court
By James Vicini
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court say it will decide whether foreign nationals can use American courts to challenge their incarceration at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the first cases it will hear on the Bush administration's war on terror.
The justices agreed on Monday to rule on whether U.S. courts have the power to consider challenges by a group of Afghan war detainees to their continued confinement without access to families or lawyers, and with no charges brought against them.
The nation's high court will hear an hour of arguments in the spring, with a ruling due by July in a pair of cases that could decide the judiciary's role to review certain government's actions in the war on terror.
The justices said in a written order they would decide whether U.S. "courts lack jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals captured abroad in connection with hostilities and incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba."
The high court agreed to hear appeals by two British, two Australian and 12 Kuwaiti nationals. They are among about 660 detainees from more than 40 nations at the base in Cuba following their capture during the war in Afghanistan.
The detainees were seized during the U.S.-led campaign against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The first detainees arrived at Guantanamo in January 2002.
Washington considers the detainees enemy combatants, not prisoners of war entitled to specific protections under international law. The United States so far has identified only a handful of detainees to possibly face military tribunals.
Attorneys for the 16 foreign nationals argued that the U.S. Constitution and international law forbade indefinite detention without providing the prisoners certain protections.
Human rights groups welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to hear the appeals.
'HUMAN RIGHTS SCANDAL'
"The treatment of the Guantanamo detainees is a human rights scandal which violates international law and damages U.S. claims to uphold the rule of law," Amnesty International said in a statement.
"We hope that the Supreme Court will bring an end to the legal black hole into which the Guantanamo detainees have been thrown and ensure justice for them and their families," it said.
Elisa Massimino of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights said, "The justices should use these cases to assert that the Guantanamo detainees have legal rights and a means to seek enforcement of those rights."
A federal judge dismissed the lawsuits on the grounds that the military base was outside U.S. sovereign territory and that writs of habeas corpus were unavailable to foreign nationals outside U.S. territory. A U.S. appeals court agreed.
Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the British and the Australians, said the case involved an important issue.
"One of the most fundamental democratic principles is at risk in this case: whether the government may detain people without charge and deny them the right to test the legality of their detention in open court," he said.
"The United States has created a prison on Guantanamo Bay that operates entirely outside the law," lawyers for those detainees told the Supreme Court in one appeal.
In the other appeal, for the Kuwaitis, lawyers said the case raised "questions that test the character of our standing in the world community."
A group of former U.S. federal judges, diplomats, military officials and human rights advocates all supported the appeals and urged the Supreme Court to hear the case.
The U.S. Justice Department defended the government's anti-terror policies.
Solicitor General Theodore Olson said the detainees cannot invoke U.S. court jurisdiction to challenge their detention, and he warned of the potential for judicial interference "with the core war powers of the president."
Well, the Bush Administration has declared that it has sole jurisdiction here. I'd rather have this process reviewed by the courts, if anything to shut up the wingnuts. But, as to your question as to who decides jurisdiction, all three branches continually try to declare their jurisdiction - and, if SCOTUS were to over-assert itself, Congress has the last say in the form of impeachment and removal.
I have a simple-minded proposal. Instead of having the USSC tied up with issues not directly connected to US citizens (taxpayers), I suggest we, US citizens/taxpayers, demand a full monitary reimbursement from the Justices for resources expended by those who "sit" on any "hearing", should they "decide" they have the authority to take up this flapdoodle.
The International Criminal Court judges want to make themselves useful idiots - why not ship the less-dangerous there one at a time to help "expend" the ICC's funds?
Exactly -- it's a clear case of tautological reasoning.
It's not the USSC that decides, it's the Constitution that decides -- and that is an important distinction. The Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch have powers, including the power to interpret, just as the Judicial Branch does.
BTW, the Constitution says that its rights apply to all persons in the physical confines, the physical jurisdiction, of the US.
Guantanamo is NOT a part of the US. And that's why it was chosen, to cut off the mischief of the ACLU types who want to blur the distinction between accused criminals (who, if citizens, have full constitutional rights until properly convicted) and prisoners of war.
I would pass out in shock.
Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State; (See Note 10)--between Citizens of different States, --between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
So according to the plans of our founders, our representatives have the final say as to the extent of the Court's jurisdiction. They only need to assert themselves.
I believe they have. I think the first Congress passed some judicial acts that are still followed today.
Ex parte Quirin and Korematsu would essentially remain the guiding cases in this area. But that'll never happen in this case, and not in the vast majority of cases - the courts make too convenient of a scapegoat for Congress for them to really start trimming their jurisdiction.
It appears your underlined citation refers only to cases appealed from an inferior court.
It just occured to me that this might be a case that O'Connor and Kennedy had in mind in their comments that they would be looking to foreign opinions in their rulings!
We should, of course, be bound by our treaties. But if the Court tries anything tricky on Guantanamo it runs the real risk of treading on the Constitutional foreign policy perogatives of the Senate. We just may see an impeachment in our lifetime if they do.
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