Today the Supreme Court ruled five-to-four that "enemy combatants" in lock-up at Guantanamo Bay may challenge the lawfulness of their detentions by way of seeking the writ of habeas corpus. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, gave an overview of his 70-page opinion thus:
Petitioners present a question not resolved by our earlier cases relating to the detention of aliens at Guantanamo: whether they have the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus, a privilege not to be withdrawn except in conformance with the Suspension Clause, Art. I, § 9, cl. 2. We hold these petitioners do have the habeas corpus privilege. Congress has enacted a statute, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA), 119 Stat. 2739, that provides certain procedures for review of the detainees’ status. We hold that those procedures are not an adequate and effective substitute for habeas corpus. Therefore § 7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), 28 U.S.C.A. § 2241(e) (Supp. 2007), operates as an unconstitutional suspension of the writ. We do not address whether the President has authority to detain these petitioners nor do we hold that the writ must issue. These and other questions regarding the legality of the detention are to be resolved in the first instance by the District Court.
Boumediene v. Bush, No. 06-1195, slip op. at 1-2 (U.S. June 12, 2008).
Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens joined in the majority opinion.
Chief Justice Robert and Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissented.