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Detainees given trial rights
“They could seal the courtroom, but it does mean the detainees will get access to the information,” Mr. Kerr said, adding that the government is unlikely to allow the detainees to be released on bail because of national security concerns.
The ruling resurrects many detainee lawsuits that federal judges put on hold as they awaited the Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush. Judges assigned to hear the cases plan to meet within days to decide how they will handle them.
The administration opened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The prison has been harshly criticized at home and overseas for detentions without trials and aggressive interrogations of prisoners.
The Supreme Court said that the detainees have constitutional rights and that the Bush administration’s system for classifying them as enemy combatants and reviewing evidence against them is inadequate.
But Chief Justice Roberts said the “political branches crafted these procedures amidst an ongoing military conflict, after much careful investigation and thorough debate. The court rejects them today out of hand …”
Justices Samuel A. Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also dissented.
Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter and John Paul Stevens joined Justice Kennedy in the majority.
The Bush administration has argued the detainees have few rights, in part because they are not being held on U.S. soil. Guantanamo has been leased from Cuba since 1903.
However, the court’s ruling said the legal status of the land was irrelevant to the constitutional rights of detainees by the U.S. government.
The Supreme Court’s ruling eliminates the need to continue operating the prison at Guantanamo, said David Cole, a Georgetown University Law Center constitutional law professor.
“I think it will speed the process of closing Guantanamo,” Mr. Cole said. “The whole idea behind Guantanamo was to put the detainees beyond the reach of the law. The Supreme Court has said that you can’t do that.”
Mr. Bush has said he would like to close the facility after other countries take the prisoners who are there.
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