Supreme Court hears from Guantanamo detainees seeking access to U.S. courts

by Steve Handlesman
NBC News

In Washington Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard the case of war on terror prisoners at Guantanamo bay Cuba.

The question before the court is whether those being held should get the right to challenge their detention?

It is the 3rd high court case on the rights of terror suspects.

In the first two, the Bush Administration lost.

So the court worked inside, protestors stood in the snow outside the Supreme Court and demanded due process for war on terror detainees.

305 foreign nationals, Saudis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Bosnians are still held at the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.

For 6 years, President Bush has refused to let detainees try to prove their innocence, so some have sued.

Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights said, "What our clients want is an opportunity to go into a court and get a fair hearing before a neutral judge where they're represented by counsel."

In oral arguments, Justice Antonin Scalia insisted that right, called Habeaus Corpus, can't be used by the terror suspects.
Justice Stephen Breyer asked administration lawyer Paul Clement, what if detainees are wrongly detained?

"So, I'm asking you. Where can you make that argument?" asked Breyer.

U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement said, "I'm not sure that you can make that argument Mr. Breyer"

Breyer replied, "Exactly!"

U.S. rights apply only on American territory.  Does that apply to the U.S. prison in Cuba?

Justices disagreed.

Justice Roberts said, "The base at Guantanamo is not part of the United States."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who disagreed said, "In every practical respect, Guantanamo Bay is a U.S. territory."

The rights of terror detainees is disputed territory, until the high court rules.
That decision won't come until summer.