[JURIST] US District Judge Joyce Hens Green has ruled that the Guantanamo military tribunals for terror suspects are unconstitutional, and that Guantanamo prisoners have constitutional protections under the law. Judge Green said that the eleven plaintiff before her in a co-ordinated habeas proceedings had valid Fifth Amendment claims and that the proceedings conducted by Combatant Status Review Tribunals [DOD fact sheet] to determine if they were "enemy combatants" violated their due process rights:
Of course it would be far easier for the government to prosecute the war on terrorism if it could imprison all suspected "enemey combatants" at Guantanamo Bay without having to acknowledge and respect any constiutional rights of detainees. That, however, is not the relevant legal test. By defintion, constitutional limitations often, if not always, burden the abilities of government officials to serve their constituencies. Although this nation must unquestionably take strong action under the leadership of the Commander in Chief to protect itself against enormous and unprecedented threats, that necessity cannot negate the existence of the most fundamental rights for which the people of this country have fought and died for well over two hundred years.Green also held that the prisoners had valid claims under the Third Geneva Convention. Read the unclassified version of Judge Green's memorandum opinion [PDF] and the accompanying order [PDF].
Judge Green's ruling appears to conflict directly with a ruling earlier this month by US District Judge Richard Leon concluding that Guantanamo detainees had no constitutional rights [JURIST report], setting the stage for an appeal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
2:10 PM ET - The plaintiffs' attorneys have issued a press release on their victory. Bloomberg now has more.