US civil rights champions cheered the Supreme Court's decision Thursday that allows "war on terror" prisoners to petition civilian courts over their detention, calling it a loud and clear rebuke to the Bush administration.
But President George W. Bush decried the ruling, which overturned a key part of White House-backed legislation on trying detainees at the Guantanamo military prison in Cuba by special military courts.
Human Rights Watch said the landmark ruling guaranteeing constitutional habeas corpus rights to the detainees "deals a stunning blow to the Bush administration's detention policies."
"The right of prisoners to challenge the legal basis of their detention, the centuries-old right known as habeas corpus, provides a basic check against the abuses inherent in unfettered executive power," the group said. . .
Citizen's groups were as starkly divided as the court.
The large veterans group the American Legion expressed outrage at the decision.
"To suggest that foreign terrorists, who have never set foot in this country and respect no civilized laws, should enjoy the same rights under our constitution as US citizens must make America's founding fathers turn over in their graves," said the Legion's National Commander Marty Conatser.
But the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called the decision a "victory for objective justice." "Once again, the Bush administration's weak assertion that its heavy-handed detention policy operates within the law has not found support in our nation's highest court," said CAIR National Director Tahra Goraya. (MORE)