Hamdi v. Rumsfeld - Law Essay on the Controversial Supreme Court Case

2021-06-28 09:37:52
2 pages
391 words
University of Richmond
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Hamdi v. Rumsfeld is another controversial Supreme Court case. In this, the court showed cognizance to the U.S government's power to hold enemy combatants including US citizens but goes ahead to say that US detainees should be granted the right to challenge their enemy combatant status. This recognition led to the reversal of a dismissal of habeas corpus by a lower court in the case of Yaser Hamdi. Hamdi, an American citizen, was regarded as an enemy combatant after his capture in Afghanistan shortly after 7/11. At the time of his capture, Afghan was a zone of active combat. Hamdi filed for a habeas corpus after endless motion and counter motions (Simon, 2002). Michael Mobbs, an advisor to the Undersecretary of Defense, responded by issuing a declaration to outline the government's position in justifying Hamdi's detention. Several judges supported Hamdi's demand for due process in challenging his enemy combatant status as well as for detention. However, there are several dissenting views on the same.

Justice Antonin Scalia asserted that the court had only two options to justify the detainment of Hamdi. Either suspend habeas corpus or try him under ordinary criminal law. He was of the opinion that the executive's power to detain should be restricted. This ruling opened debate on the plurality opinion in regards to detention without charges. This view is flawed because on its insistence on indefinite detainment for purposes of interrogation and prevention of one getting back to the battlefield and also use of force to detain. These purposes have been criticized. This case has led to the development of Military Commissions Act that was signed in 2006. This act seeks to address the serious legal issues that arise in dealing with war detainees.

Notably, these two cases exhibit the tensions that exist between a national security interest and individual rights. Later the court ruled in Hamdi's favor by acknowledging that the court had not granted him the due process as guaranteed by the US Constitution. These continuous changes in the original decisions by the courts are clear pointers towards the development of legal thought in balancing between these individual rights and national security interests.


Works cited

Simon, Kelly E. "Hamdi v. Rumsfeld." Geo. Immigr. LJ 17 (2002): 511.

Singh, Navdeep, and Jasbir K. Bawa. "Suspicious People: Profiling and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders." AAPI Nexus: Policy, Practice and Community 14.2 (2016): 49-62.


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