Enemy combatants must be able to challenge detention
Jul 27, 2004
Christian and Muslim groups that had filed legal briefs on behalf of terrorism prisoners praised the late June decisions by the Supreme Court that said “enemy combatants” and foreign nationals detained by the U.S. must be permitted to challenge their detention in American courts.
The rulings in two separate cases concerned persons being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The court’s decision in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld applies to U.S. citizens who are determined to be “enemy combatants” by the president. Even in a time of war, the court ruled, the president is not permitted constitutionally to block their access to legal counsel and judicial review.
“We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation’s citizens,” wrote Justice Sandra Day O’Connor for the 8-1 majority. (Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter.)