[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] Friday agreed to hear the appeals [order list, PDF] of Guantanamo Bay detainees who are seeking habeas corpus review of their detentions. The Court denied petitions for certiorari [PDF text; JURIST report] in April, but reversed itself Friday:
The petitions for rehearing are granted. The orders entered April 2, 2007, denying the petitions for writs of certiorari are vacated. The petitions for writs of certiorari are granted. The cases are consolidated and a total of one hour is allotted for oral argument. As it would be of material assistance to consult any decision in Bismullah, et al., v. Gates, No. 06-1197, and Parhat, et al., v. Gates, No. 06-1397, currently pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, supplemental briefing will be scheduled upon the issuance of any decision in those cases.
The petitions for certiorari came in the cases of Boumediene v. Bush and al Odah v. United States, where the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in February upheld [PDF text; JURIST report] the habeas-stripping provision of the controversial Military Commissions Act [PDF text; JURIST news archive] as applied to "enemy combatants."
Under the Supreme Court's rules, five justices must vote to allow a rehearing of a petition. Only four votes are needed to initially grant a petition for certiorari, but only three justices – Justices Breyer, Ginsburg and Souter would have allowed the cases to proceed when the Court first considered the issue in April. Justices Kennedy and Stevens filed a separate statement [PDF text] in April explaining they were rejecting the appeals merely on procedural grounds. According to SCOTUSblog:
Friday's order was an indication that those two Justices had decided that the Court needed to change its approach, and so provided the votes needed to grant rehearing. Under the Court's rules, a rehearing is granted only if there has been a change in "intervening circumstances of a substantial or controlling effect" or if counsel can cite "substantial grounds not previously presented."
SCOTUSblog has more. AP has additional coverage.