US Supreme Court building
On this date, the Supreme Court affirmed that detainees at GTMO had the right to habeas corpus, which requires the state to justify the detention of those arrested in court.  Boumediene v. Bush was the defining habeas corpus case after a series of court cases allowing for habeas rights and government policies restricting these rights.

The case was brought forward by Lakhdar Boumediene, an Algerian who was held at GTMO, but claimed innocence.  After losing in the D.C. Circuit Court, the case moved to the Supreme Court.

The main issues at stake were first, whether the constitutional right to habeas corpus applied to detainees at GTMO, and second, whether the Detainee Treatment Act (2005) and Military Commissions Act (2006) granted proper habeas review.

The Court ruled that the constitutional provision of habeas corpus applied to detainees because the U.S. government had full control of the naval station.  The opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, also reasoned that habeas corpus traditionally protected from abuses of power and that implementing court review would not compromise the government’s security.

Since detainees had the right to habeas, it followed that any acts restricting this right would be unconstitutional. The Detainee Treatment and Military Commissions acts moved habeas review out of the U.S. courts into a system of Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs), which did not grant enough protections to act as proper habeas review. The Court ruled the CSRTs inadequate, which led detainees to petition in U.S. courts for the first time since GTMO’s establishment.

- Elena Rippel, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis