Supreme Court: Enemy Combatants Can Challenge Detentions

In a rebuke to the Bush Administration, the Supreme Court ruled today in Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld that enemy combatants may challenge their detention, and that they have the right to counsel. The opinion is here (pdf).

The New York Times is reporting here that the Court, in an opinion by Justice O'Connor, has "partially" sided with the Bush administration in the Hamdi case, ruling that Hamdi can be held without charges or trial, but can challenge his detention in court, and that he can "unquestionably" have access to counsel. This sounds as if it is a significant loss for the Government. (Hamdi, unlike Padilla, had not seriously challenged the Government's right to detain him if he is an enemy combatant.)

Associated Press story here. From Reuters:

Four of the nine justices concluded that constitutional due process rights demand that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant must be given "a meaningful opportunity" to contest case for his detention before a neutral party. Two more justices agreed that the detention of American citizen Yaser Hamdi was unauthorized and that the terror suspect should have a real chance to offer evidence he is not an enemy combatant.

One quote from O'Connor's opinion:

the court has "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."

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