Supreme Court Gitmo Ruling Called “Chilling”; Will Cost American Lives

Washington, D.C. – Responding to today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush that allows suspected terrorists to challenge their incarceration, Project 21 member Kevin Martin is criticizing the Court, saying this decision puts national security at risk and sends a confusing signal to the military.

“As a Navy veteran who supported and defended our Constitution at home and abroad, today’s Supreme Court ruling benefiting suspected terrorists is deeply disappointing,” said Martin.  “To grant suspected terrorists the same rights as those fighting to protect our nation is wrong.  I consider this one of the most chilling legal rulings in my lifetime.  Giving alleged foreign combatants the same rights as any American provides potential ammunition to those with political agendas running counter to the commander-in-chief.  Our nation’s enemies will now have the ability to gum up our federal courts with baseless legal challenges and further hinder the pursuit of justice.”

In the razor-thin 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court decision allows suspected terrorists such as those currently held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba the right to challenge their incarceration in federal courts.  It overturns a law passed in 2006 that limited judicial jurisdiction and affects 270 suspected terrorists currently being held by the U.S. military – including 14 suspected al Qaeda members. 

Writing in dissent, and joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the 2006 law struck down today was “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.  The political branches crafted these procedures amidst an ongoing military conflict, after much careful investigation and thorough debate.  The Court rejects them today out of hand, without bothering to say what due process rights the detainees possess, without explaining how the statute fails to vindicate those rights, and before a single petitioner has even attempted to avail himself of the law’s operation…  One cannot help but think… think, after surveying the modest practical results of the majority’s ambitious opinion, that this decision is not really about the detainees at all, but about control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants.”

In another scathing dissent, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the majority decision “warps the Constitution” and that “[our] nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.”  Scalia further warned the ruling “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed… that consequence would be tolerable if necessary to preserve a time-honored legal principle vital to our constitutional Republic.  But it is this Court’s blatant abandonment of such a principle that produces the decision today.”  Scalia also wrote a practical effect of the decision will likely be harm to enemy combatants, as the decision is likely to result in enemy combatants being turned over to other nations by the United States following capture.

Martin added: “This sends a confounding message to our men and women in uniform, within our intelligence community and to our allies.  Their hard-fought efforts to capture terrorist suspects maybe for naught because they could simply be released back on the battlefield on a legal technicality.”

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992.  For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at


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