The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to take a second look at how its 2008 decision on the rights of detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is being carried out.
Monday’s move comes almost four years to the day after the court’s last significant statement on the war on terrorism, its 5-4 decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which held that detainees have the right to meaningful review of their detentions in U.S. courts. That decision launched a flurry of filings by detainees seeking to have federal trial courts declare their detentions unconstitutional and order their release.
Almost immediately afterward, federal trial judges in Washington, D.C., began detailed reviews of the detainees’ legal claims.
In the first two years, detainees won relief in 19 out of 34 cases heard by the trial courts, according to a Seaton Hall study. But in 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit began overturning those decisions, eventually declaring that even the government’s second- and third-hand hearsay evidence should be presumed accurate unless there was clear contrary evidence.
The appeals court eventually overturned every single favorable decision that the trial courts had handed down, opening itself to criticism that it had rendered the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision “a dead letter.”
Seven detainees tried one more time in an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to review their detentions and the way the lower courts were handling the cases.
But on Monday the high court, without comment, declined to intervene, which would appear to be the end of the line, not just for the seven detainees, but all of the remaining detainees.
President Obama, in his first week in office, sought to shut down the detention center at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, but Congress interceded to prevent that.
To date, the U.S. government has voluntarily released about 600 detainees either home to their native countries or to some other country willing to accept them, and eight have died at Guantanamo, some by their own hand.
Still remaining at Guantanamo are 169 prisoners, 87 of them approved for release, but with no place yet willing to accept them. Five more are facing trial, charged with having roles in the 9/11 attack.