16 Former Federal Judges Say New Legislation ‘Unwarranted’ to Address Guantanamo Detainee Habeas Rights

At Two Year Anniversary of Supreme Court’s Decision in Boumediene, Review of Litigation Demonstrates Courts’ Ability to Handle Guantanamo Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or mallee@constitutionproject.org Brenda Bowser Soder, (202) 370-3323 or bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org

WASHINGTON – Congress does not need to pass new legislation to guide federal courts in their review of habeas cases in which individuals at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility challenge the lawfulness of their detention, according to a new report endorsed by sixteen former federal judges released today by two leading rights organizations, the Constitution Project and Human Rights First. In the report, Habeas Works: Federal Courts’ Proven Capacity to Handle Guantanamo Cases, the former federal judges conclude that attacks on the judiciary’s ability to review habeas cases are unfounded, as are calls for Congressional intervention. Simply put, the report finds, habeas is working.

The report marks the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush, which laid the ground for District Court judges to review habeas cases of the Guantanamo detainees and develop the constitutional framework for reviewing cases. The report examines how the courts have moved deliberately and thoughtfully in developing an effective jurisprudence in habeas cases that addresses the government’s interest in national security, while protecting the right of prisoners to fairly challenge their detention.

The report, Habeas Works, concludes:

“The Guantanamo litigation has tested the judiciary as it has tested the nation. But the judiciary, like the country and the Constitution it serves, has risen to the challenge. As former judges, we do not doubt for an instant that Congress has the power, within constitutional limits, to draft a detailed code that would set this litigation on yet a new direction. Congress could, within limits, write a new detention standard for the courts to apply. Congress could, within limits, write different procedural rules to govern this litigation. But such a course is at once unwise and unnecessary: unwise because it would bring us back to square one just when the courts are finally beginning to resolve these cases; and unnecessary because the federal bench, as it has done for centuries, is steadily developing a coherent and rational jurisprudence. Habeas is working.”

Habeas Works: Federal Courts’ Proven Capacity to Handle Guantanamo Cases was endorsed by the following former federal judges:

Honorable John J. Gibbons U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 1970-1990
Honorable Shirley Hufstedler U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1968-1979
Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 1979-2002
Honorable Thomas D. Lambros U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio, 1967-1995
Honorable Timothy K. Lewis U.S. District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, 1991-1992, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 1992-1999
Honorable James K. Logan U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 1977-1998
Honorable Abner Mikva U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1979-1994
Honorable Robert P. Murrian U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Tennessee, 1978-2002
Honorable William A. Norris U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, 1980-1997
Honorable Robert J. O’Conor, Jr. U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, 1975-1984
Honorable Stephen Orlofsky U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, 1995-2003
Honorable Raul A. Ramirez U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California, 1980-1989
Honorable Charles B. Renfrew U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 1972-1980
Honorable H. Lee Sarokin U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, 1979-1994, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 1994-1996
Honorable William S. Sessions U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, 1974-1987
Honorable Alfred M. Wolin U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, 1987-2004

Click here to view Habeas Works: Federal Courts’ Proven Capacity to Handle Guantanamo Cases.

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