Somebody give Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy a big wet kiss from me. Slip him a little tongue, when nobody’s watching.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Suspected terrorists and foreign fighters held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The decision marks another legal blow to the Bush administration’s war on terrorism policies.
The 5-4 vote reflects the divide over how much legal autonomy the U.S. military should have to prosecute about 270 prisoners, some of whom have been held for more than six years without charges. Fourteen of them are alleged to be top al Qaeda figures.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system reconciled within the framework of the law.”
Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, was supported by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, generally considered the liberal contingent.
At issue was the rights of detainees to contest their imprisonment and challenge the rules set up to try them. Video Watch how the 5-4 ruling is a major blow for the Bush administration.
A congressional law passed in 2006 would limit court jurisdiction to hear so-called habeas corpus challenges to detention. It is a legal question the justices have tackled three times since 2004, including Thursday’s ruling.
Each time, the justices have ruled against the government’s claim that it has the authority to hold people it considers “enemy combatants.”
(My emphasis. More at the link.)