Detainees can get day in court
The Guantanamo ruling: What it means
In a stinging rebuke to President Bush’s anti-terror policies, a deeply divided Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday that foreign detainees held for years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their indefinite imprisonment without charges.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said federal judges could ultimately order some detainees to be released. The decision also casts doubt on the future of the military war crimes trials that 19 detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged Sept. 11 plotters, are facing so far.
The language: Excerpts from the decision
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in support: “The detainees in these cases are entitled to a prompt habeas corpus hearing. 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.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, in dissent: “The court warps our Constitution in a way that goes beyond the narrow issue of the reach of the Suspension Clause. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.The nation will live to regret what the court has done.”
The reaction: What they’re saying
President Bush: “We will abide by the court’s decision. I strongly agree with those who dissented.”
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.: “The Constitution and the rule of law bind all of us … No one is above the Constitution.”
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.: “Today’s opinion is an important and much-needed check by a coequal branch of government on an administration which has shown utter contempt for the rule of law.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.: “I am deeply disappointed in what I think is a tremendously dangerous and irresponsible ruling.”
The fallout: What happens next
The ruling was the third rebuke of the Bush administration’s treatment of prisoners. It was not immediately clear whether the latest ruling would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees.
Find in-depth looks at the landmark decision and how courts, Congress and the Bush administration must deal with the aftermath.
Compiled from wire reports