In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantánamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention. The Court, dividing 5-4, ruled that Congress had not validly taken away habeas rights.
The Court stressed that it was not ruling that the detainees are entitled to be released — that is, entitled to have writs issued to end their confinement. That issue, it said, is left to the District Court judges who will be hearing the challenges. The Court also said that “we do not address whether the President has authority to detain” the individuals at the U.S. Naval base in Cuba; that, too, it said, is to be considered by the District judges.
We'll have more once the decision is released. For some background on Guantánamo, Ben Wizner, Staff Attorney for the ACLU's National Security Project, wrote a great history of Gitmo as a prison and the court cases that surround it.
Remember this day: it's the beginning of the end for Guantánamo.