Constitution Project Welcomes Supreme Court’s Decision to Hear Uighur Detention Case

High court will consider whether courts have authority to order release of detainees

CONTACT: Matthew Allee, (202) 580-6922 or

WASHINGTON – The Constitution Project welcomes the United States Supreme Court’s decision today that it will hear the case involving the Chinese Muslims, known as Uighurs, being unlawfully detained at Guantanamo. The U.S. military and the courts have long recognized that the Uighur detainees do not pose a threat to the United States, therefore leaving no legal basis for their continued detention. Federal District Court Judge Urbina ordered they be released into the United States last October, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed, deciding that courts lacked the authority to order such a release. The Uighurs then sought review of their case, Kiyemba v. Obama, by the Supreme Court.

The thirteen Uighurs still held at Guantanamo have been detained there for over seven years now. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have recognized that they are not “enemy combatants” and have tried to find countries willing to accept them for resettlement. Since the D.C. Circuit’s decision, four of the seventeen Uighurs were removed from detention and resettled in the nation of Bermuda; another six have accepted an offer to resettle in Palau. After that resettlement occurs, seven Uighurs will still remain imprisoned at Guantanamo.

The following can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Constitution Project Senior Counsel:

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court granted review, and hope that the Court will reverse the D.C. Circuit’s decision. If left in force, the opinion would completely undermine the habeas rights previously recognized by the Supreme Court. The remaining Uighurs are not enemy combatants and therefore the executive branch lacks the authority to continue to detain them at Guantanamo. Courts must have the power to compel release in order for successful challenges to unlawful detention to have any meaning.

“The Obama administration should not, however, wait for the Court to resolve this matter. To end the unlawful detention of the remaining Uighur detainees, we urge President Obama to act promptly to find another home for the Uighurs and finally end their unlawful detention.”

The Constitution Project, along with the Brennan Center for Justice, the Rutherford Institute, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the City of New York Bar Association, filed a friend of the court brief in the Supreme Court on May 7, urging the Court to accept review of the Uighurs’ case seeking release from Guantanamo now that they have been recognized not to be enemy combatants. Click here to view the brief.

Also in May, the Constitution Project and nine prominent conservatives released a statement calling on the federal government to end the unlawful detention of the seventeen Chinese Muslims, who were being detained at Guantanamo at the time. Click here to view the statement.

Donate Now

US Constitution

Upcoming Events