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Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

United States Supreme Court
542 U.S. 507 (2004)



In 2001, in response to attacks against the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network on September 11, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), authorizing the President to use all appropriate and necessary force against persons suspected of engaging in terrorist activity against the United States. The President shortly thereafter ordered United States military forces into Afghanistan. This case arises out of the detention of Yaser Hamdi (defendant), a U.S. citizen, who was seized in Afghanistan on suspicion that he was actively working with the Taliban regime. He was turned over to the United States military. The United States interrogated Hamdi in Afghanistan before transferring him to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in 2002. After learning he was an American citizen, authorities transferred him to Norfolk, Virginia, and then Charleston, South Carolina. The Government contended that because Hamdi was an “enemy combatant” it could hold him indefinitely in the United States without formal charges or proceedings until it determined that access to counsel or further process was warranted. Hamdi’s father filed a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that Hamdi’s detainment violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and demanding that Hamdi be appointed counsel and given a fair hearing. The government (plaintiff) filed a motion to dismiss, which included an outline of the evidence against Hamdi, called the Mobbs Report. The district court found that the Mobbs Report did not contain enough evidence to hold Hamdi without trial. The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that the United States acted constitutionally in detaining Hamdi, and Hamdi petitioned for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (O’Connor, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Souter, J.)

Dissent (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (Thomas, J.)

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