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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

04-HAMDI on Apr 28, 2004

Decided Jun 28, 2004
Case Ruling: HAMDI v. RUMSFELD
Yaser Hamdi, a US citizen, was captured in Afghanistan and detained as an enemy combatant in the US where he was permitted no contact with family or an attorney. His father sought the writ of habeas corpus. Hamdi had been in Afghanistan from Aug. 2001 and was with Taliban forces and armed when, after the US invasion of that country, he surrendered to Afghan forces allied with the US.

HELD: Delivered by O`Connor; joined by Rehnquist, Kennedy & Breyer

Enemy combatants may lawfully be held as a use of "necessary and appropriate force" by the President under the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) provided by act of Congress after the 9/11 attacks. The laws of war allow detention of combatants during hostilities so they do not rejoin the enemy effort. Precedents allow US citizens to be held as combatants. Habeas corpus is available to challenge such a detention. Wartime concerns will restrict due process to presumptively correct facts; if a court finds that Hamdi took up arms against the US, the AUMF authorizes his detention for the duration of hostilities.

CONCURRENCE:Souter concurs in judgment; joined by Ginsburg

There is criminal law to deal with citizens who use force against the government. The AUMF does not speak to detaining citizens. The claim to be holding Hamdi according to the law of war is undercut by holding him incommunicado, which is not the custom with a prisoner of war.

DISSENT #1: Scalia dissents; joined by Stevens

The executive's detention of citizens runs against core notions of liberty. To detain a citizen, the US must either criminally charge him or Congress must suspend the writ of habeas corpus. There is no middle ground. The Court should not fix problems within the authority of other branches to deal with.

DISSENT #2: Thomas dissents

The determination that Hamdi is a combatant who must be detained is within the war powers of the executive. The judiciary is not free to examine it.


    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 14. Question 14: Maintain US sovereignty from UN Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Homeland Security
  • Headline: Congress authorized detaining US citizens as enemy soldiers (Score: 2)
  • Headline 2: US must charge crimes or suspend habeas to hold citizen (Score: -2)
  • Headline 3: Courts have no place in reviewing military decisions (Score: 2)

    Participating counts on AmericansElect question 9.
  • Headline: Congress authorized detaining US citizens as enemy soldiers (Answer: B)
  • Headline 2: US must charge crimes or suspend habeas to hold citizen (Answer: A)
  • Headline 3: Courts have no place in reviewing military decisions (Answer: D)
  • AmericansElect Quiz Question 9 on Reform: Which of the following comes closest to your personal opinion?
    • A: To make this country great, we should return to the examples and values of our forefathers
    • B: This country is already great, we shouldn't change a thing
    • C: To make this country great, we should keep building and adapting for the future


  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.



Democrats participating in 04-HAMDI

Stephen Breyer j1US Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j1cUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 



Republicans participating in 04-HAMDI

Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (until 2005) 
Antonin Scalia w2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter w1cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens j2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas w3dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 



Independents participating in 04-HAMDI



Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0


















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