Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008)

Case Name: Boumediene v. Bush
Citation: 553 U.S. 723

Issue: Whether aliens have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus and if Congress acted in violation of the Suspension Clause by seeking to eliminate their right of habeas corpus.

Key Facts: Aliens designated as enemy combatants being detained at Guantanamo Bay. All of these aliens are not citizens of nations that the US is at war with (see AUMF).  While the aliens had pending appeals, Congress passed the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) which stated, “no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider…an application for writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” Also, that the District of Columbia Circuit Court shall have “exclusive” jurisdiction to review decisions of the CSRTs.

The Court held in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that this did not apply to cases pending when the DTA was enacted. Congress responded by passing the Military Commissions Act (MCA) which stated no court shall have jurisdiction to hear any other action against the US relating to any aspect of the detention of an alien  (pending on or after the date of enactment of this Act).

Analysis: If Congress intends to suspend the right, an adequate substitute must offer the prisoner a meaningful opportunity to demonstrate he is held pursuant to an erroneous application or interpretation of relevant law, and the reviewing decision-making must have some ability to correct errors, to assess the sufficiency of the government’s evidence, and to consider relevant exculpating evidence. Furthermore, the DTA failed to provide an adequate alternative to habeas corpus.

Holding: Aliens do have the habeas corpus privilege.