From reports heard, a United States Supreme Court 5-4 ruling says that the POWs at Guantanamo Bay have the rights of habeas corpus just like any US citizen and should be tried in US civilian courts. It is a 5-4 decision with the expected split along ideological lines; Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. The decision is being characterized as
the Bush [administration's] 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's not merely a setback for the Administration, silly Associated Press, but for all of us and the earthly forces that keep us safe here and abroad.
I have to step out, but by the time I get back, there should be a bit more blog commentary on the ruling and I'll post some of it in an update.
UPDATE: Lots of places to go at this point to see what conservatives think, lawyers or not.
But first, to the horse’s mouth. SCOTUSblog has the opinion (.pdf).
From Justice Scalia’s dissent:
Today the Court warps our Constitution in a way that goes beyond the narrow issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause, invoking judicially brainstormed separation-of-powers principles to establish a manipulable “functional” test for the extraterritorial reach of habeas corpus (and, no doubt, for the extraterritorial reach of other Constitutional protections as well). It blatantly misdescribes [sic] important precedents, most conspicuously Justice Jackson’s opinion for the Court in Johnson v. Eisentrager. It breaks a chain of precedent as old as the common law that prohibits judicial inquiry into detentions of aliens abroad absent statutory authorization. And, most tragically, it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner.
The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today. I dissent.
Adler at Volokh:
As I (super-quickly) skim Justice Kennedy's opinion for the Court, it appears to hold that Guantanamo detainees have habeas rights, that these rights can only be denied through a valid suspension of habeas rights (under the Suspension Clause of the Constitution), that the procedures created by the Detainee Treatment Act were not an adequate substitute for habeas, and therefore Section 7 of the Military Commission Act is an unconstitutional suspension of the detainees' habeas rights.Houston at Stop the ACLU:
[This decision] doesn’t “help” the murderers and terrorists get habeas corpus, or find rights, it will kill them on the battlefield. What battlefield commander will waste his time trying to figure out what rights the terrorist he is facing has or doesn’t have?Mac Ranger:
For credit reference the next attack on America, cite Kennedy, Souter, Ginsberg and Stevens, who decided today to rewrite the constitution decide that terrorists have the same rights as Americans.Malkin:
Chief Justice John Roberts says the rule of law and the American people have lost out–and with this ruling, we “lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges.”
A sample of the Left side of opinion from Hardin Smith at FireDogLake:
This is an enormous rebuke to the Bush Administration and their supporters who rammed the MCA forward, and a repudiation of their attempts to override the rule of law on fear tactics and power grabs.And Levin at the Corner:
[I]f POWs have access to our civilian courts, how do our courts plan to handle the thousands, if not tens of thousands of cases, that will be brought to them in future conflicts?(Thanks to Instapundit, Hot Air and Memeorandum)
It has been the objective of the left-wing bar to fight aspects of this war in our courtrooms, where it knew it would have a decent chance at victory. So complete is the Court's disregard for the Constitution and even its own precedent now that anything is possible. [snip]
I fear for my country.