Friday, December 27, 2013

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case brief

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case brief summary
548 U.S. 557 (2006)

Petitioner, a Yemeni national in custody at an American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, filed petitions for writs of habeas corpus and mandamus to challenge the Executive Branch's intended means of prosecuting a charge of conspiracy to commit offenses triable by military commission. The United Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a decision granting a writ of habeas corpus. Certiorari was granted.


  • The government's motion to dismiss was denied because Pub. L. No. 109-148, § 1005(e)(1), 119 Stat. 2739, 2740 (2005), did not repeal federal jurisdiction over pending habeas actions. 
  • Abstention was not warranted as petitioner was not an Armed Forces member and the tribunal convened to try him was not part of the integrated system of military courts established by Congress. 
  • Review of the commission's procedures in advance of a final decision was appropriate as petitioner had no automatic right to review of the commission's decision before a federal court under the Detainee Treatment Act, Pub. L. No. 109-148, 119 Stat. 2739 (2005). 
  • The fact that petitioner already had been excluded from his own trial provided a basis to presume that the procedures employed would violate the law. 
  • On the merits, the military commission convened to try petitioner lacked power to proceed as its structure and procedures violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice. 
  • The President's practicability determination was insufficient to justify variances from the procedures governing courts-martial. 
  • The procedures also violated the Geneva Conventions as they did not meet common article 3's requirements.
The judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Also see: Abstention (Doctrine) definition -

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