Supreme Court Decision in Guantanamo Detainee Case Could Rein in Unilateral Presidential Power
Interview with Bruce Ackerman, constitutional law professor at Yale University, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
On June 29, the Supreme Court ruled that President George Bush's plan to try detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by military tribunal is unconstitutional, and that it violates both the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions, of which the U.S. is a signatory. Many of the more than 500 prisoners have been held there for more than four years as enemy combatants in the White House war on terror. One of them is Osama bin Laden's one-time driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose attorneys appealed his case to the Supreme Court. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, five justices ruled against the administration's position. Justices Scalia, Alito and Thomas backed the administration, while Chief Judge John Roberts recused himself because he had ruled in the earlier appellate court decision on the case supporting the Bush administration's position.
After the Court's ruling, some Democrats in Congress called for the creation of an independent commission to review the administration's often unilateral anti-terrorism measures, while Republican leaders said they would seek to authorize military commissions at Guantanamo and restrict application of the Geneva Conventions to terrorist suspects.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Bruce Ackerman, a constitutional law professor at Yale University School of Law shortly after the Supreme Court ruling. Ackerman explains why he filed a friend of the court brief in the Hamdan case and why he considers this Supreme Court decision to be truly historic.
Bruce Ackerman's latest book is titled, "Before the Next Attack," published by Yale University Press.
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