THE SUPREME COURT’S DECISION IN BOUMEDIENE V. BUSH: THE MILITARY COMMISSIONS ACT OF 2006 AND HABEAS CORPUS JURISDICTION

Author: 

A. Hays Butler

The writ of habeas corpus is perhaps the most fundamental guarantee of liberty in a democracy. The United States’ federal habeas corpus statute was first enacted as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789. As Justice Stevens has noted, habeas corpus is “however, ‘a writ antecedent to statute . . . throwing its root deep into the genius of our common law.’ The writ appeared in English law several centuries ago, became ‘an integral part of our common-law heritage’ by the time the Colonies achieved independence . . . .” One of the most significant features of the Military Commissions Act (“MCA”) is its elimination of jurisdiction by any court over habeas corpus applications filed on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who has been “determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.” In Boumediene II, the Supreme Court decided that the MCA’s elimination of habeas corpus rights violates the Suspension Clause of the U.S. Constitution. This case note will evaluate some of the potential impacts of the decision. View More