Supreme Court declines to take up Guantanamo Bay detainee's case

Supreme Court declines to take up Guantanamo Bay detainee's case
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up the case of a Guantánamo Bay detainee who has been held at the prison since 2002.

Moath Hamza Ahmed al-Alwi, who was captured while fighting with the Taliban and labeled as an enemy combatant, has argued that he should be released from the prison because the U.S. government's authority to detain him has “unraveled.”

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He also asked the justices to consider whether the government's statutory authority to detain him has elapsed "because the conflict in which he was captured has ended."

In a statement issued alongside the order, Justice Stephen BreyerStephen BreyerThomas urges Supreme Court to reverse 'demonstrably erroneous decisions' Thomas urges Supreme Court to reverse 'demonstrably erroneous decisions' Supreme Court hands Virginia Democrats a win in gerrymandering case MORE noted that the court had previously ruled that the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks allowed "the president to detain certain enemy combatants for the duration of the relevant conflict."

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled against al-Alwi, finding that the conflict had not ended and that the detention authority remained in place.

But Breyer said that, due to the "substantial prospect" the duration of the conflict could "amount to 'perpetual detention,' " he believed the court should soon revisit the question.

"I would, in an appropriate case, grant certiorari to address whether, in light of the duration and other aspects of the relevant conflict, Congress has authorized and the Constitution permits continued detention," Breyer wrote. 

It is unclear how the justices ruled in declining to take up the case, but the order noted that Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court hands Virginia Democrats a win in gerrymandering case Supreme Court hands Virginia Democrats a win in gerrymandering case Supreme Court rules defendants can be tried on state and federal charges, potentially impacting Manafort MORE did not participate in the decisionmaking process.

Four justices need to sign on for the court to hear a case.