By Maj. (Ret.) Eric Montalvo, Esq., Partner at Puckett & Faraj, PC, in Washington, D.C. and former Marine Corps Judge Advocate General (JAG). Eric currently specializes in national security law, military criminal law, and military administrative law. He has handled several Military Commission cases including U.S. v. Al Bahlul, U.S. v. Hawsawi (the alleged 9/11 co-conspirator), and the case of the U.S. v. Jawad, fighting for and securing the release of one of the youngest Guantanamo Bay detainees in 2009.
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to review the D.C. Circuit Court's ruling in Kiyemba V. Obama (Supreme Court docket 09-581). The D.C. Circuit Court held that the judiciary may not review executive branch decisions regarding when or where to transfer detainees that it is prepared to release from Guantanamo Bay. This case is now informally referred to as "Kiyemba II." Ten current Guantanamo detainees who have been cleared for release object to being returned to their country of national origin out of fear or concern for their safety and well-being.
In Kiyemba I, the Court granted certiorari on the question of "whether a federal court exercising habeas jurisdiction has the power to order the release of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay "where the Executive detention is indefinite and without authorization in law, and release into the continental United States is the only possible effective remedy." In the vacation and remand to the D.C. Circuit Court the Supreme Court held that "no court has yet ruled in this case in light of the new facts, and we decline to be the first to do so."
The Court's ruling creates uncertainty in the system which is already wrought with indecision and indefinite consternation. The Supreme Court has created an exception to the general rule that a court loses jurisdiction where there is no case or controversy and a court's decision will no longer have an impact on plaintiff. The Court has recognized that some questions may involve proceedings that are frequently repetitive, but come to a conclusion prior to the normal life cycle of litigation effectively depriving the Court of jurisdiction. The Court may assume jurisdiction where there was injury that was "capable of repetition, yet evading review." The classic example of the Court utilizing this exception is in the abortion line cases. These cases present such a circumstance and allow the government to alter the justiciability issue simply by changing the facts in the 9th inning.