Supreme Court Hears Case on Guantanamo Bay Detainees

By: Linsey Davis, ABC News
By: Linsey Davis, ABC News

Do alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts?

Congress passed a law that says no.

Linsey Davis reports on how Dec. 5, the Supreme Court heard arguments that the law is unconstitutional.

Several hundred spectators and protesters lined up on Dec. 5 to see the Bush administration head back to court--the Supreme Court--to defend its indefinite detention of foreign terrorism suspects.

"It represents the best efforts of the political branches to provide detainees to successfully prosecute the global war on terror," said Paul Clement, U.S. Solicitor General.

About 50 detainees and their lawyers, claim the Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in 2006, violates their right to challenge detention in US courts.

"What we want now, and what our clients want is an opportunity to go into a court and get a fair hearing, before a neutral judge where they're represented by counsel," stated Michael Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The Bush administration maintains the detentions are not only lawful but necessary to reduce terrorism. The government's argument is that the detainees are being held outside the US and therefore do not have constitutional rights.

"These people weren't innocent until proven guilty. They were guilty unless proven innocent," said Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, Army Reserve lawyer.

Some prisoners have been held at the GITMO prisoner facility for nearly six years.

In two previous decisions. The White House and Congress changed laws after the court ruled in favor of the detainees.

A decision is expected in this matter by June.

The United States has no plans to put most of those held at Guantanamo on trial.

Just three detainees face charges under the Military Commissions Act and the military has said it could prosecute as many as 80.


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