Hamdan Wins

In what strikes me as an upset, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the D.C. Circuit and ruled in favor of Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan. The Court held that the federal courts have jurisdiction over Hamdan’s claims, and that the military commission that is to try Hamdan fails to satisfy requirements of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention, both of which the Court held to be applicable. You can access the opinions here.

The ruling was by a 5-3 majority; Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito were the dissenters. The Chief Justice did not participate since he was one of the judges who decided the case in the D.C. Circuit.

Scalia’s dissent accuses the majority of ignoring the plain language of Congress’s enactment providing that:

[N]o court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Scalia further argues that the majority substitutes its own judgment as to “military necessity” for that of the executive branch.

I’ve only had time to scan the opinions briefly and may have further comments later. For now, the one apparent implication of Hamdan is that hundreds of Guantanamo detainees will become participants in the American judicial system. If they thought Gitmo has been a strange and disorienting experience, they haven’t seen anything yet.

UPDATE: Over at NRO, David Frum and the Heritage Foundation take a dim view of the Hamdan majority.


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