WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer released the following statement regarding Supreme Court decisions on Monday on the ability of citizen and non-citizen detainees who are deemed “enemy combatants” to challenge their incarceration before neutral judges or decision makers:
“The United States of America is a nation of laws, and on Monday the Supreme Court reaffirmed this fundamental principle of American democracy for all the world to see.
“Not one of us wants to unnecessarily impede the ability of our Commander in Chief to prosecute the war on terrorism. It is important that the commander in chief have the authority sufficient to protect the interests of our country. However, the Court recognized that our Commander in Chief – even at a time of war – does not possess unchecked power under our Constitution to hold detainees who are deemed ‘enemy combatants’ indefinitely. Nor does the exercise of Executive authority fall outside the scope of judicial review.
“These vital decisions (in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Bush) recognize our centuries-long commitment to the rule of law, which itself was an inspiration for the American Revolution that we will commemorate in a few short days. And they also reaffirm the principles and values that we stand for – and are willing to fight and die for – as Americans.
“Perhaps the most basic of those principles is the ability of a criminal defendant – or in this case, a detainee – to know the charges against him and to contest them. The Court’s rejection of the Administration’s sweeping claim of power over detainees does not empower our enemies. It is a victory for the rule of law, our way of life, and ultimately for the American people. And it is a signal to the rest of the world that, even at moments of peril and stress, we will not casually dispense with the rule of law that for so long has defined us.”