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Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

Supreme Court of the United States

April 28, 2004, Argued ; June 28, 2004, Decided

No. 03-6696

Opinion

 [*509]  [**2635]   Justice O'Connor announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which the Chief Justice, Justice Kennedy, and Justice Breyer join.

At this difficult time in our Nation's history, we are called upon to consider the legality of the Government's [****5]  detention of a United States citizen on United States soil as an "enemy combatant" and to address the process that is constitutionally owed to one who seeks to challenge his classification as such. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that petitioner Yaser Hamdi's detention was legally authorized and that he was entitled to no further opportunity to challenge his enemy-combatant label. We now vacate and remand. We hold that ] although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged here, due process demands that a citizen held in the United States as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis  [***587]  for that detention before a neutral decisionmaker.

 [*510]  I

On September 11, 2001, the al Qaeda terrorist network used hijacked commercial airliners to attack prominent targets in the United States. Approximately 3,000 people were killed in those attacks. One week later, in response to these "acts of treacherous violence," ] Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed,  [****6]  or aided the terrorist attacks" or "harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons." Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), 115 Stat 224. Soon thereafter, the President ordered United States Armed Forces to Afghanistan, with a mission to subdue al Qaeda and quell the Taliban regime that was known to support it.

This case arises out of the detention of a man whom the Government alleges took up arms with the Taliban during this conflict. His name is Yaser Esam Hamdi. Born in Louisiana in 1980, Hamdi moved with his family to Saudi Arabia as a child. By 2001, the parties agree, he resided in Afghanistan. At some point that year, he was seized by members of the Northern Alliance, a coalition of military groups opposed to the Taliban government, and  [**2636]  eventually was turned over to the United States military. The Government asserts that it initially detained and interrogated Hamdi in Afghanistan before transferring him to the United States Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay in January 2002. In April 2002, upon learning that Hamdi is an American [****7]  citizen, authorities transferred him to a naval brig in Norfolk, Virginia, where he remained until a recent transfer to a brig in Charleston, South Carolina. The Government contends that Hamdi is an "enemy combatant," and that this status justifies holding him in the United States indefinitely--without formal charges or proceedings--unless and until it makes the  [*511]  determination that access to counsel or further process is warranted.

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542 U.S. 507 *; 124 S. Ct. 2633 **; 159 L. Ed. 2d 578 ***; 2004 U.S. LEXIS 4761 ****; 72 U.S.L.W. 4607; 2004 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 486

YASER ESAM HAMDI and ESAM FOUAD HAMDI as next friend of YASER ESAM HAMDI, Petitioners v. DONALD H. RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, et al.

Subsequent History: On remand at, Remanded by Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 378 F.3d 426, 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 16298 (4th Cir., 2004)

Summary judgment granted by, Summary judgment denied by, Remanded by Mori v. Dep't of the Navy, 731 F. Supp. 2d 43, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84510 (D.D.C., Aug. 17, 2010)

Prior History: ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 316 F.3d 450, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 198 (4th Cir. Va., 2003)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.

CORE TERMS

detention, enemy, combatant, detain, military, plurality, suspension, authorization, imprisonment, cases, courts, captured, prisoner of war, circumstances, parte, hostilities, suspend, proceedings, Convention, writ of habeas corpus, Declaration, wartime, due process, rebellion, terrorist, tribunal, forces, habeas corpus, detainees, treason

Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Military & Veterans Law, Warfare, Criminal Law & Procedure, Terrorism, Terroristic Acts, Elements, International Law, Individuals & Sovereign States, Human Rights, Terrorism, Crimes Against Persons, General Overview, National Defense, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Rights, Prisoner Rights, Sentencing, Imposition of Sentence, Factors, Governments, Federal Government, Domestic Security, International Detainees, Postconviction Proceedings, Imprisonment, Congressional Duties & Powers, Suspension Clause, Habeas Corpus, Procedure, Discovery, Substantive Due Process, Scope, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Speech, Public Employees, Laws of War, Separation of Powers, Executive Offices, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, Administrative Record