Skip to content

US Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Guantanamo Bay Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider seven different appeals by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, affirming the government’s detention of would-be terrorists.

One prominent Guantanamo Bay case that the Court refused to hear was Latif v. Obama (U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 10-5319, 2011). In the case, Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif challenged his detention, arguing that he had an innocent reason for being in Afghanistan when he was arrested there by U.S. forces. Latif argued that the government’s evidence in the case was flawed, and thus, its intelligence report on Latif was incorrect. The district court agreed with the plaintiff and refused to accept the government’s intelligence report.

In a heavily redacted opinion, a federal appeals court found that the lower court’s approach was incorrect and that the acceptance of a report into evidence still allows the plaintiff to challenge the facts in that report. By accepting the report, the appeals court noted, the burden of proof correctly shifts to the plaintiff to prove that the facts are incorrect.

In their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys for Latif argued that the appeals court’s decision gave the U.S. government too much power and provided an unfair advantage in every case. By allowing the case to stand, the Court has affirmed the appeals court decision that government intelligence reports should be assumed to be correct unless proven otherwise by the plaintiff.

The Court also refused to consider an appeal by Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who sued the government after he was detained on suspicion of terrorism and held in U.S. Navy custody in South Carolina for four years. In his appeal, Padilla contested his status as an enemy combatant. Padilla is currently serving a 17-year prison sentence after being found guilty of crimes relating to terrorism.Latif v Obama.pdfPadilla_v_Rumsfeld.pdf

*Photo: A protestor demonstrates outside of the U.S. Supreme Court during the third Guantanamo hearing, December 5, 2007 |takomabibelot/flickr