Jurisprudence of Justice John Paul Stevens: Leading Opinions of Wartime Detentions [May 13, 2010]   [open pdf - 144KB]

From the Document: "Justice John Paul Stevens played a pivotal role in determining the scope of executive-branch power in a post-9/11 world. After 9/11, Congress quickly authorized the Executive to respond to the terrorist attacks using military force. Difficult legal questions emerged from the consequences of the ensuing military actions, particularly as suspected members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban were captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere and transferred to the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Key questions included: What legal authorities restrict the Executive's ability to detain and try such persons as it sees fit? To what extent do detainees outside of the United States have the right to challenge their detentions in federal courts? When may Congress remove federal courts' jurisdiction over habeas cases? Justice Stevens authored majority opinions in two leading cases, 'Rasul v. Bush' and 'Hamdan v. Rumsfeld', in which the Court allowed detainees' habeas petitions to proceed and invalidated the early incarnation of military commissions, thereby rejecting the broader views of executive power articulated shortly after the 9/11 attacks. In the cases, his view prevailed over strongly articulated dissenting opinions authored by Justice Scalia and other justices. For a more in-depth examination of the Supreme Court's post-9/11 decisions regarding habeas corpus, see CRS [Congressional Research Service] Report RL33180, 'Enemy Combatant Detainees: Habeas Corpus Challenges in Federal Court', by Jennifer K. Elsea and Michael John Garcia."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41238
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