Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Suit Accountability for GITMO
The United States Supreme Court refused to review a lower court's dismissal for a case brought by four former British Gitmo detainees. The suit was brought against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse in Gitmo. The detainees spend more than two years at Gitmo. They were send back to the UK in 2004.
By not hearing the case an earlier opinion by a D.C. District Court Stands. In its opinion the court opined that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which applies to all persons did not apply to Gitmo detainees. This ruling basically means that Gitmo detainees are not persons under U.S. Law.
The Obama Administration apparently had asked the court not to hear the case.
December 14, 2009—Today, the United States Supreme Court refused to review a lower court’s dismissal of a case brought by four British former detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse at Guantánamo. The British detainees spent more than two years in Guantanamo and were repatriated to the U.K. in 2004.
The Obama administration had asked the court not to hear the case. By refusing to hear the case, the Court let stand an earlier opinion by the D.C. Circuit Court which found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” did not apply to detainees at Guantanamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law. The lower court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.” Finally, the circuit court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantanamo had any Constitutional rights.
Below is the question posed to the High Court by Washington Lawyer Eric Lewis on behalf of the four men.
The decision by the Administration to ask the High Court to reject this case, seems at odds with its determination to try KSM and four others in New York City?
Am I missing something here?
“Whether United States officials are free to engage in despicable acts [at Guantánamo] in a place wholly controlled by the United States is the pre-eminent constitutional issue of our time,” wrote Washington lawyer Eric Lewis in his brief on behalf of the four men and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
“It is essential that this court lay down a strong and clear message that officially ordered torture is abhorrent and always a violation of fundamental rights,” Mr. Lewis said.
The high court rejected the appeal in a one-line order without comment. The action ends years of litigation on behalf of the former detainees. It lets stand an earlier ruling by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissing the lawsuit.
The Obama administration opposed the litigation and had urged the high court to reject the appeal. The government argued that “special factors” related to military protection of national security preclude judicial involvement in allowing such litigation to move forward in “sensitive circumstances such as these.”