The United States detained Yaser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen without any formal charges or proceedings and classified him as an enemy combatant, alleging he fought with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Hamdi’s father filed a habeus corpus petition and contested the Government’s allegations against Hamdi.
18 U.S.C. § 4001(a) establishes that no citizen shall be imprisoned or detained by the U.S. except pursuant to an Act of Congress.
The Authorization of Use of Military Force Resolution (AUMF) authorized the Executive branch to use all necessary and appropriate force against entities associated with the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
In Youngstown Sheet & Tube, the Court established that war is not a blanket authorization for the Executive Branch in cases of citizens’ rights.
The Government alleged that Yaser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen, fought with the Taliban. In 2001, the Afghan Northern Alliance captured Hamdi and turned him over to the U.S. The government classified Hamdi as an enemy combatant, and argued that this status allowed them to hold him indefinitely without formal charges or proceedings. Hamdi’s father filed a habeas corpus petition, and asserted that Hamdi was in Afghanistan to do relief work, that he did not receive military training, and that he was trapped in Afghanistan when the military campaign began. The Government responded to the petition, alleging that Hamdi traveled to Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, he affiliated with a Taliban military unit and remained with them after the attacks on 9/11, he received weapons training, his unit surrendered to the Northern Alliance, and he surrendered an assault rifle to them.
Justice Scalia argued that Article I, § 9, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution—the Suspension Clause— allows Congress to suspend habeus corpus in situations where the exigencies of war justify doing so. According to Justice Scalia, the AUMF is an implementation of the Suspension Clause. Justice Scalia also noted that the group of potential detainees is limited to citizens accused of being enemy combatants who are detained in the territorial jurisdiction of federal courts, which is a small group of people.
Hamdi’s detention falls within the federal government’s war powers, and the Court cannot question it.
Concurring in part, dissenting in part, and concurring in the judgment. Justice Souter did not agree with the plurality’s position that the AUMF would authorize Hamdi’s detention if he was in fact an enemy combatant. According to Justice Souter, the Government did not satisfy the detention requirements under 18 U.S.C. § 4001(a).