by James Oliphant
In a decision related to its landmark holding Thursday granting Guantanamo detainees habeas corpus rights, the Supreme Court held that American citizens held prisoner in Iraq can also challenge their detentions in federal court.
The court's ruling, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, was unanimous in holding that two American Muslims who traveled to Iraq to fight coalition forces there have access to U.S. federal courts to object to their continued detention in Iraq.
The government had argued that because Shawnqi Omar and Mohammed Munaf were captured and held by a multi-national force, the federal habeas corpus statute did not apply to them. The court rejected that argument, saying that the two were being held by a force clearly under American control.
However, the court also held that federal judges do not have the power to issue orders to prevent prisoners in Iraq from being transferred into custody of the Iraqi government. The two men petitioned the U.S. District Court in Washington to attempt their being handed over to the Iraqi criminal justice system.
You can read the full opinion here.