Kiyemba v. Obama (Vacated and Remanded)

December 11, 2009

Whether federal habeas courts have the authority to order the release of Guantanamo detainees who are being illegally detained, including an order releasing them into the United States if no other alternative is available.

This case involves the plight of Chinese Uighurs who have been held for years at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. In response to their habeas corpus petition, a federal court ruled that the Uighurs were being illegally detained. Notwithstanding that finding, the government contends, and the D.C. Circuit agreed, that a federal court may not order the Uighurs released in the United States, even if that means that their illegal detention will continue indefinitely. The amicus brief filed by the ACLU argues that the government’s position violates the Suspension Clause by depriving the federal courts of authority to order an effective habeas remedy for illegal detention, and relies on separation-of-powers arguments that the Supreme Court has already rejected.

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