Supreme Court challenges Bush


Summary

The justices made the highly unusual reversal without comment along with other end-of-term orders.

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In April, the court turned down an identical request, although two justices indicated they could be persuaded otherwise.

At the time, three justices said they wanted to intervene immediately in the matter: Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.

The court did not indicate what changed the justices’ minds about considering the issue.

‘Inadequate process’

But last week, lawyers for the detainees filed a statement from a military officer in which he described the inadequacy of the process the US military has been using for four years to classify the detainees as enemy combatants.

The Bush administration says a new law strips civilian courts of their jurisdiction to hear detainee cases.

Five of the nine justices must agree to take a case that previously has been denied a hearing, according to an authoritative text on the Supreme Court.

“This is a stunning victory for the detainees,” says Eric M Freedman, professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, who has been advising inmates at the US prison in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba.

Guantanamo Bay causes ‘unease with Supreme Court’

“It goes well beyond what we asked for, and clearly indicates the unease up there” at the Supreme Court.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said: “We did not think that court review at this time was necessary, but we are confident in our legal position.”

The case is expected to be heard in the northern autumn.

In February, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a key provision of a law the Bush administration pushed through Congress last year stripping federal courts of their ability to hear the detainees’ challenges to their confinement.

On April 2, the Supreme Court denied the detainees’ request to review the February appeals court ruling.

The detainees then petitioned the court to reconsider its denial.

Lawyers for the detainees said dismissing the petitions would be “a profound deprivation” of the prisoners’ right to speedy court review.


The justices made the highly unusual reversal without comment along with other end-of-term orders.

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In April, the court turned down an identical request, although two justices indicated they could be persuaded otherwise.

At the time, three justices said they wanted to intervene immediately in the matter: Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.

The court did not indicate what changed the justices’ minds about considering the issue.

‘Inadequate process’

But last week, lawyers for the detainees filed a statement from a military officer in which he described the inadequacy of the process the US military has been using for four years to classify the detainees as enemy combatants.

The Bush administration says a new law strips civilian courts of their jurisdiction to hear detainee cases.

Five of the nine justices must agree to take a case that previously has been denied a hearing, according to an authoritative text on the Supreme Court.

“This is a stunning victory for the detainees,” says Eric M Freedman, professor of constitutional law at Hofstra Law School, who has been advising inmates at the US prison in Guantanomo Bay, Cuba.

Guantanamo Bay causes ‘unease with Supreme Court’

“It goes well beyond what we asked for, and clearly indicates the unease up there” at the Supreme Court.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said: “We did not think that court review at this time was necessary, but we are confident in our legal position.”

The case is expected to be heard in the northern autumn.

In February, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld a key provision of a law the Bush administration pushed through Congress last year stripping federal courts of their ability to hear the detainees’ challenges to their confinement.

On April 2, the Supreme Court denied the detainees’ request to review the February appeals court ruling.

The detainees then petitioned the court to reconsider its denial.

Lawyers for the detainees said dismissing the petitions would be “a profound deprivation” of the prisoners’ right to speedy court review.