"The military commission at issue lacks the power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the UCMJ and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949."Essentially the Court ruled that Congress' attempt to exclude the Court's jurisdiction over the inmates at Guantánamo was unsuccessful. The US Government argued that they Court should abstain from hearing any matter arising out of a detention at Guantánamo under the same principle that allows them to abstain from hearing a case against a US service-person, under the principle of assisting in the efficient operation of the Armed Forces. According to Justice Stevens, the Government's argument was "inapt because Hamdan [the inmate in question] is not a service member." He also held that the Court's overarching duty was, in fact, "in both peace and war, to preserve the constitutional safeguards of civil liberty, and [...] the public interest in a decision on those questions without delay".
Particular issues that the Court objected to included:
- The fact that "an accused and his civilian counsel may be excluded from, and precluded from ever learning what evidence was presented during, any part of the proceeding the official who appointed the commission or the presiding officer decides to close." [Australia has introduced similar rules for our own 'anti-terrorism' cases]
- "The procedures adopted to try Hamdan also violate the Geneva Conventions. The D. C. Circuit dismissed Hamdan’s challenge in this regard on the grounds, inter alia, that the Conventions are not judicially enforceable and that, in any event, Hamdan is not entitled to their protections. Neither of these grounds is persuasive."
- "Even assuming that Hamden is a dangerous individual who would cause great harm or death to innocent civilians given the opportunity, the Executive nevertheless must comply with the prevailing rule of law in undertaking to try him and subject him to criminal punishment."
- "The Government has not charged Hamdan with an offense … that by the law of war may be tried by military commission”. [This is because Hamdam is only accused of being Osama bin Laden's driver and not in participating in any act of violence whatsoever]
Of course, I suspect that the administration will take its time in repatriating the inmates and may try to hold some of them for trial in US Courts (although I doubt they have very much admissible evidence for many, or any, of them).