Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
Public Justice joined with People for the American Way Foundation, the Rutherford Institute, and the American Jewish Committee to file an amici brief in a case challenging the legality of the military commissions established by President Bush to try so-called “enemy combatants” for war crimes. The Bush Administration claimed that it could use secret, unsworn statements by unidentified accusers against prisoners at Guantánamo Bay on trial for their freedom and their lives. The brief argued that the military’s plans to deny prisoners the right to confrontation were “incompatible with a fair trial” and that the right of a defendant to see, hear, and cross-examine witnesses against him is one of “the fundamental guaranties of life and liberty.”
On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the military commissions were not authorized when Congress enacted the post-9/11 resolution permitting a response to the terrorist attacks and were not authorized by the recently passed Detainee Treatment Act. The Court also concluded that the commissions were illegal under military justice law and the Geneva Conventions. The Seattle law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP, provided pro bono assistance in authoring the amici brief, with input from Public Justice’s Victoria Ni.