A Congressional Research Service report.
In the consolidated cases of Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States, decided June 12, 2008, the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 opinion that aliens designated as enemy combatants and detained at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus. The Court also found that § 7 of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), which limited judicial review of executive determinations of the petitioners’ enemy combatant status, did not provide an adequate habeas substitute and therefore acted as an unconstitutional suspension of the writ of habeas. The immediate impact of the Boumediene decision is that detainees at Guantanamo may petition a federal district court for habeas review of the circumstances of their detention. This report summarizes the Boumediene decision and analyzes several of its major implications for the U.S. detention of alien enemy combatants and legislation that limits detainees’ access to judicial review.