A prominent national Islamic civil rights and
advocacy group today applauded two U.S. Supreme Court rulings granting
those captured in the war on terrorism access to American courts. The
Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called the
decisions a "victory for due process."
A ruling in the case of American citizen Yaser Esam Hamdi gave President
Bush the power to hold Hamdi without charges or trial, but said he has the
constitutional right to challenge his detention in court. Hamdi has been
detained more than two years and was only recently allowed to see a lawyer.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the court: "(Hamdi) unquestionably
has the right to access to counsel…a state of war is not a blank check for
the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."
In another ruling, the court said that some 600 men held at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, can use American courts to contest their captivity and treatment.
CAIR's statement in reaction to the court's decisions stated:
"Today's rulings are a victory for due process and a confirmation that the
executive branch of government does have limitations on how it can sidestep
constitutional civil liberties guarantees. The ability to be represented by
an attorney and to present evidence in open court is the hallmark of a just
society and must be preserved, even in times of crisis."
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 28 regional
offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.
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