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DOJ: Guantanamo inmates cannot use Constitution to challenge detention

[JURIST] Lawyers for the US Department of Justice have told the US Supreme Court [official website] that inmates held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] cannot challenge their detention by relying on the US Constitution because "the Constitution does not guarantee aliens held abroad a right to habeas corpus." The argument, put forth in the government's reply brief [PDF text] supporting the DOJ's motion to dismiss [PDF text; JURIST report] for lack of jurisdiction, refers to a case brought by Salim Ahmed Hamdan challenging President Bush's authority to establish military commissions to try Guantanamo Bay detainees for war crimes. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case [JURIST report] last November, but the DOJ asked the Court to dismiss the case because the recently passed Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 [JURIST document] limits the ability of Guantanamo prisoners to challenge their detentions in federal courts. The DOJ says the law applies retroactively.

Hamdan's defense lawyers responded with a surreply [PDF text; SCOTUSBlog report] Wednesday, arguing that the constitutional clause that limits when the habeas writ can be suspended does not apply only to people living in the US. Hamdan is accused of plotting terrorist activities with Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network. He has admitted to serving as a driver for bin Laden, but has denied any connection with terrorist activities. The Supreme Court is expected to consider the government's motion to dismiss the case on Friday. AFP has more.

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