Habeas Corpus in Rasul v. Bush Essay

Habeas Corpus in Rasul v. Bush (2004)

            In Rasul v. Bush (2004), the Supreme Court ruled that foreign nationals incarcerated without formal charges had the right to challenge the legality of their continuing detention in civilian courts. The decision came after 2 Australians and 12 Kuwaitis who were captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan and held under suspicion of being involved in terrorist activity raised the legality of their imprisonment at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Guantanamo, Cuba. The decision addressed primarily the issue of the writ of habeas corpus to which the High Court ruled the plaintiffs were entitled to under the law.

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The Rasul ruling indicated the importance of the habeas corpus right of all men that “…no free man should be imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, or exiled save by the judgment of his peers or by the law of the land” (Jackson, as cited in Rasul v. Bush, 2004). The attorneys for the detained foreign nationals claimed illegal detention and the curtailment of rights to counsel and Fifth Amendment rights. They sought redress from the U.S. court system to protest the detention. The government had argued that a petition for habeas corpus was not within the jurisdiction of the courts because Guantanamo is a facility which the United States does not exercise sovereignty over, claiming that while the areas was controlled by the government, Cuba had “ultimate sovereignty.” The Supreme Court highlighted that the habeas corpus statute entitled federal civilian courts to hear applications of the writ initiated by persons claiming to be held in violation of the U.S. Constitution and treaties. The Supreme Court also ruled irrelevant the issue of Cuba’s sovereignty and stated that the fact exists that the U.S. exerts “complete jurisdiction and control” over Guantanamo. Hence, the petition for the writ of habeas corpus applies in this case.


Rasul v. Bush (2004). Supreme Court Decision on Rasul et al. v. Bush, President of the United States et al. Retrieved from: http://www.cdi.org/news/law/rasul-decision.pdf



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