Congressional Democrats seized on a Supreme Court ruling Thursday morning that gives suspected terrorists held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay the right to challenge their detention in federal court, thus injecting new life into the long-running debate over the controversial detention facility.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) praised the Court for “uphold[ing] the constitution of the United States” and reiterated her desire to see Gitmo shut down.
Other Democrats quickly followed suit after the court ruled 5-4 that the U.S. military lacks the legal authority to prosecute as many as 300 prisoners. The detainees sued the government to contest their imprisonment and the current rules used to try them in military tribunals.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush is a stinging rebuke of the Bush administration’s flawed detention policies," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), "and a vindication for those who have also argued from the beginning that it was unwise as well as unconstitutional.”
The issue has often spilled over from the courts into the legislative branch. In 2006, Congress passed a law limiting the court jurisdiction to hear similar types of challenges.
“Time after time," says Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), "the Supreme Court has rebuffed the administration’s attempts to undermine the Constitution."
"It is a testament to our system of government that the Court has rejected the habeas-stripping provisions of the Military Commissions Act and reaffirmed that the government does not have the power to detain people indefinitely and arbitrarily without judicial review.”
As of noon Thursday, the White House had yet to release a statement on the ruling.