News Release

Gitmo Decision


President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Ratner said today: “Finally after almost seven years of litigation the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision has upheld the rights of the Guantánamo detainees to challenge their detention in federal court by writs of habeas corpus. The Court finally said enough is enough and that detentions without end and without court review were unacceptable, illegal and unconstitutional. The Court did what even a Democratic Congress had been afraid to do: restore the fundamental right of habeas corpus to the Guantánamo detainees — a right the court said was protected by the Constitution.

“This may well mean the death knell of the Guantánamo prison camp. The Bush administration does not have the evidence to survive federal court challenges to the detentions, and what ‘evidence’ they may have is the product of torture and cruel treatment. We now hope that we can move forward with the Guantánamo cases. We hope that the presidential candidates will support this decision; supporting the decision is supporting the Constitution. It is now the job of the candidates to advocate the dismantling of the remainder of the unconstitutional practices of the ‘war on terror.’ Torture, rendition, military commissions and secret detentions must come to an end. We hope this decision is the beginning of that end.”
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Cohn is the president of the National Lawyers Guild, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and the author of “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law.” She wrote “Guantánamo Detainees’ Fate at Stake in Boumedienne.”

She said today: “The Supreme Court held that the Guantánamo detainees have a constitutional right to habeas corpus and that the scheme for reviewing designations of ‘enemy combatant’ under the Combatant Status Review Tribunals is an inadequate substitute for habeas corpus. Justice Kennedy wrote for the majority in the 5-4 decision, breaking the tie between the liberal and conservative justices: ‘Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers … Within the Constitution’s separation-of-powers structure, few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to imprison a person.’ Boumedienne is the poster child for how delicately the Court is now balanced, and the disastrous consequences to the doctrine of separation-of-powers that await us if a President McCain makes good on his promise to appoint judges in the mold of Roberts and Alito.”
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Berrigan is an organizer with Witness Against Torture: A Campaign to Shut Down Guantánamo. She said today: “Two years ago this week, three men at Guantánamo committed suicide, and since then two more have died. I was struck by [Justice] Kennedy’s comment that the detainees in Guantánamo can no longer bear the detention. This ruling was a good ruling, but it certainly comes too late for these men and will need a lot of work to make it meaningful.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167