Senators spar over habeas rights of Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] US Democratic and Republic senators sparred over the habeas corpus rights of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees at a US Senate Armed Services Committee [official website] hearing [witness list and prepared statements] Wednesday. In a rare appearance as a committee witness [prepared testimony; recorded video], US Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] called the detention of 400 Guantanamo prisoners without charge and without recourse to traditional habeas rights "un-American," while the committee's lead Republican, US Sen. John Warner (R-VA) [official website], said Congress should delay any legislation on the habeas issue until the Supreme Court rules on cases that must first make their way through the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Fellow Republican John Cornyn (R-TX) insisted that there was no "English common law case" granting habeas rights to alien enemy combatants [JURIST news archive].

Earlier this month the Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in two proceedings brought by Guantanamo detainees who are challenging provisions of the Military Commissions Act (MCA) [PDF text; JURIST news archive] stripping their right to file habeas corpus challenges. Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy filed a separate statement [SCOTUSblog report] explaining that the Supreme Court would not hear the challenges until the detainees had exhausted all other potential federal remedies. The court's decision prompted the US Justice Department to seek the dismissal [JURIST report] of all pending Guantanamo habeas cases. AP has more.



 

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