U.S. Supreme Court to consider Uighurs’ plea for freedom
By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court today put aside objections from the Obama administration and said it will consider whether judges have the right to release into the U.S. detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who have been determined not to be a terrorist threat.
The case could set up a major separation of powers battle before the court, which decided more than a year ago that detainees had the right to challenge in federal court their continued detention. But it also might be avoided if the administration finds a way to relocate the prisoners involved in the case, a group of Chinese Muslims known as Uighurs.
The Bush administration agreed that the men, captured in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001, were not enemy combatants. However, returning them to their home country would put them at risk of torture.
A federal judge ruled that the 17 prisoners could be released into the United States. But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District overruled, saying only the legislative and executive branches had the power to exclude or admit foreigners to the country.
The Obama administration had asked the Supreme Court not to review the decision.
“There is a fundamental difference between ordering the release of a detained alien to permit him to return home or to another country and ordering that the alien be brought to and released in the United States without regard to immigration laws,” Solicitor General Elena Kagan wrote in the government’s brief.
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