the Constitution says, “The Priviledge of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when it Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” (Art I, Sec 9).
Has the Supreme Court ever ruled on the extent of the protection offered herein? Seeing as the Constitution doesn’t really seem to delimitate its own jurisdiction except to “this Constitution for the United States”, I’m unclear on whether Congress has (tying this into the debate) any right, as some have attested, to suspend Habeas Corpus at all – whether for citizens or non-citizens, whether at home or abroad – unless the is a Rebellion or Invasion. I’m not a constitutional lawyer, so I suppose other cases may have occured were constitutional protections were ruled not to apply to non-citizens, although it doesn’t seem entirely clear to me how this might be justified by the wording of the document; so I’m thinking some might be able to enlighten me.
Sure, the Supreme Court has weighed in on this several times in U.S. History, most significantly during the U.S. Civil War and in the Post-September 11, 2001 detention cases. An overall summary can be found in Wikipedia. For a book length treatment of pre-2001 habeas corpus, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote All the Laws But One on the subject.
More recently, the Supreme Court upheld general principal that Habeas Corpus could not be suspended within the U.S. without an express Congressional declaration in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004). In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), the Court upheld a habeas corpus petition of a Guantanamo detainee that the then-applicable military commission procedures were illegal. However, the Court later declined to hear a case which upheld the law providing that challenges to the Guantanamo procedures could only be brought on appeal after trial to the D.C. Circuit and then to the Supreme Court.
Thanks for your reply, which I need some emendation on, however; it may be I was not exactly clear in my question. I realize that the Supreme Court has on occasion decided cases to do with Habeas Corpus, but it seems to me that in neither of these cases Congress’s or the President’s right to suspend Habeas Corpus was upheld, correct? Thus my question was rather, has there ever been a ruling on whether there is any circumstance at all where Congress may suspend Habeas Corpus except in the two specified in the Constitution?
In other words, from the wording of the Constitution, it would seem to make no difference whether you are an “unlawful combatant” (a concept probably not familiar to the framers), a citizen, German or French or Indian, as long as you are within “the United States”, or under U.S. jurisdiction. Is that a correct interpretation? Has such a general ruling yet been made?