Court Holds in Hamdan that Geneva Convention Applies to Detainees

June 29, 2006

The Supreme Court issued a much anticipated decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld this morning. The case addressed the Bush Administration's power to establish military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. Marty Lederman, writing on SCOTUSBlog, looked to what he saw as the "enormous significance" of the decision.

The Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva applies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda. That is the HUGE part of today's ruling. The commissions are the least of it. This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"-including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard, not limited to the restrictions of the due process clause, is much more restrictive than even the McCain Amendment.

You can read the rest of Marty's analysis at SCOTUSBlog