Habeas Corpus Jurisdiction, Substantive Rights, and the War on Terror

By Fallon, Richard H., Jr.; Meltzer, Daniel J. | Harvard Law Review, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Habeas Corpus Jurisdiction, Substantive Rights, and the War on Terror


Fallon, Richard H., Jr., Meltzer, Daniel J., Harvard Law Review


This Article provides a broad-lens, synoptic perspective on war-on-terrorism questions arising within the habeas corpus jurisdiction of the federal courts. Analytically, it develops a clear framework for sorting out the tangle of jurisdictional, substantive, procedural, and scope-of-review issues that habeas cases often present. Methodologically, it champions a common law-like approach to habeas adjudication under which courts must exercise responsible judgment in adapting both statutory and constitutional language to unforeseen exigencies.

The Article also takes substantive positions on a number of important issues. In the jurisdictional domain, it defends the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Rasul v. Bush, which interpreted the habeas statute as it then stood to authorize inquiry into the lawfulness of detentions at Guantanamo Bay. The Article also argues, however, that a court would overstep if it read the Constitution as mandating review of detentions of aliens in such wholly foreign locales as Afghanistan or Iraq. Scrutinizing post-Rasul legislation that eliminates habeas for alien detainees and substitutes more limited review in the D.C. Circuit, the Article argues that the resulting scheme is constitutionally valid as applied to most cases in which the D.C. Circuit can exercise review, but invalid insofar as it entirely precludes detainees in the United States or at Guantanamo Bay from challenging their detention or conditions of confinement before a civilian court.

With respect to substantive rights, the Article argues that American citizens seized outside of battlefield conditions have a right not to be detained indefinitely without civilian trial. It explains why the constitutional rights of noncitizens are more limited, but argues that existing statutes should not be read to authorize aliens' detention as enemy combatants when they are seized in the United States, away from any theater of combat. Finally, the Article analyzes some of the most important procedural and scope-of-review questions likely to come before habeas courts.

INTRODUCTION

During wars and emergencies, Presidents claim extraordinary authority, and the exercise of executive power leads to asserted violations of constitutional rights and other legal norms. As disputes come to court, cries echo from one side that a ruling for the challengers would imperil national security and from the other that courts must hold our nation to the ideals that make its security worth preserving.

In the context of war or quasi-war, separation-of-powers issues have most often come before the courts in their habeas corpus jurisdiction. The Great Writ of habeas corpus is the procedural mechanism through which courts have insisted that neither the King, the President, nor any other executive official may impose detention except as authorized by law. Where the writ runs, courts have the power and responsibility to enforce the most basic requirements of the rule of law, even in wartime.

But where does the writ run? And how far do executive powers to detain expand, and do ordinary rights to freedom from restraint shrink, in times of emergency? Although grants of habeas corpus jurisdiction require the courts to decide these questions, the range of possible answers is broad and the correct answer often far from obvious. This much is evident from history, but confirmation, if needed, comes from the Supreme Court's four decisions to date in war-on-terrorism cases. In one of those decisions, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, (1) the Court's dismissal on jurisdictional grounds of a petition from a citizen seized and detained in the United States provoked four dissenters to charge that the majority had needlessly permitted technicalities to impede the vindication of rights marking "the essence of a free society." (2) The other three decisions scrutinized aspects of military detention that the Executive had claimed should not be reviewed by the courts. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Habeas Corpus Jurisdiction, Substantive Rights, and the War on Terror
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.