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DOJ tells federal courts they lack jurisdiction over detainee habeas claims

[JURIST] The US Justice Department [official website] has issued a notice [PDF text] informing the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] that it no longer has jurisdiction over 196 habeas corpus cases brought by detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. The DOJ notice came one day after President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [JURIST report], and followed a similar letter [PDF text] sent to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website] just after Tuesday's bill signing, notifying the court that it lacked jurisdiction in another Guantanamo habeas case. The DOJ urged the appeals court to decide the case on the existing record, but the appeals court has ordered [PDF text] supplemental briefs on the significance of the Military Commissions Act (MCA) [PDF text; summary]. The district court cases affected by Wednesday's notice had been stayed pending the DC Circuit's decision in the Guantanamo case.

The MCA provides in part that

no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever, including any action pending on or filed after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions under this chapter. [US Code Title 10, Chapter 47a, s. 950j (b)]
The new law has drawn criticism from policymakers and advocacy groups since it was passed by Congress last month [JURIST reports]. Challenges to the law's habeas provision have already been filed in federal court [JURIST report]. Friday's Washington Post has more.

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