Congress passed a resolution authorizing the President to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against terrorists or those who harbored terrorists.
Government detained D for allegedly fighting with the Taliban during the Afghanistan war.
D was born an American citizen, moved to Saudi Arabia as a child, and eventually to Afghanistan.
D was transported to Guantanamo Bay, then, upon learning of his American citizenship, transferred him to the U.S.
Gov't claims that he is an enemy combatant, and therefore the gov't can hold him indefinitely.
Fourth Circuit held that Hamdi's detention was legally authorized and that he was entitled to no further opportunity to challenge his enemy-combatant label.
SCOTUS vacates and remands.
Does the executive have the authority to detain citizens who qualify as "enemy combatants"?
What process is constitutionally due to a citizen who disputes his enemy-combatant status?
Although Congress authorized the detention of combatants in the narrow circumstances alleged here, due process demands that a citizen held in the U.S. as an enemy combatant be given a meaningful opportunity to contest the factual basis for his detention.
Court only addresses the constitutionality of the detention of an enemy combatant who falls under the narrow definition provided by the gov't: "part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners" in Afghanistan who "engaged in an armed conflict against the United States." Full definition of enemy combatant not addressed/understood by Court.
Gov't argues that no congressional authorization is required and that detention powers fall under Article II.
However, Court agrees with gov't's alternative position that Congress authorized D's detention.
Section 4001(a) of 18 U.S.C. says that no one can be detained except by act of Congress.
Gov't argues that this does not apply to military prisons.
Also argues, alternatively, that D is detained pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Court agrees with this.
There is no doubt that Congress intended those who fought against the U.S. in Afghanistan to be detained under this act under the "necessary and appropriate force."
Purpose is to stop combatant from going back into battle.
Doesn't matter that AUMF doesn't use the word "detain" because this is incident to waging war.
Indefinite detention for the purpose of interrogation is not authorized, but detention for the duration of the relevant conflict is allowed
This is not overruling Milligan, because Milligan was not a prisoner of war and was arrested at his home.
Part III: Addresses due process
It is undisputed that D is correctly before the Court under Article III (habeas)
Gov't alleges, however, that since D's seizure took place in a combat zone, habeas can be denied as a matter of law.
However, D's seizure is not "undisputed," because the circumstances were not conceded in fact nor could they be in law, because Hamdi had not been permitted to speak for himself or through counsel. Also, the facts are insufficient to support his detention.
D only said he resided in Afghanistan, not that he was part of the fighting against the U.S.
Gov't also alleges that further factual exploration is inappropriate because of the extraordinary constitutional interests at stake, namely separation of powers and the ability for the executive branch to make decisions in military conflicts.
Gov't says court should review under a very deferential "some evidence" standard.
D argues that the Court has recognized that an individual challenging his detention may not be held at the will of the Executive without recourse.
In order to balance such competing interests, the Court generally uses Matthews, which dictates that the process due in any given instance is determined by weighing the private interest against the gov't's interests and burdens.
Matthews balance: risk of an erroneous deprivation of private interests in process were reduced and the probably value of additional or substitute safeguards.
Matthews has interest in being free from detention by his own government.
This is not offset by circumstances of war or the accusations, because the risk of erroneous detention is high and must be considered since it could be used abusively.
However, there is also the gov't interest in ensuring that enemy combatants do not return to combat. It is also impractical to expect that military officers engage in litigation to prove enemy combatant status.
Held that a citizen detainee seeking to challenge enemy combatant status must receive notice o the factual basis for his classification and a fair opportunity to rebut the gov't's factual assertions before a neutral decision maker.
However, the proceedings may be tailored to alleviate burden on Executive.
For example, hearsay could be allowed and there could be a (rebuttable) presumption in favor of the government.
Court rejects assertion that separation of powers mandates a heavily circumscribed role for the courts in such circumstances. Gov't's approach would condense power into a single branch, because the courts would have to forego examination of the individual case and focus only on the legality of the broader detention scheme.
State of war is not a blank check when it comes to the right of citizens.
When individual liberties are at stake, the Constitution plays a role,
Absent suspension of the writ of habeas, a citizen detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to this process.
Souter/O'Connor (concurring in judgment)
The gov't has failed to show that the Force Resolution authorizes the detention complained of here even on the facts the government claims. If the gov't raises nothing further, the Non-Detention Act entitles D to be released.
Section 4001(a) prohibition must be read broadly to impose a burden of justification on the government for several reasons:
First, Congress enacted 4001 out of fear that the Detention Act of 1950 could authorize repetition of the Japanese-American internments during WWII. This means that Congress wanted clear authorization before a citizen could be detained.
Second, manifest authority should be read into 4001(a) because the executive branch might infringe on liberty in an attempt to fill its role in ensuring security, as liberty and security always need to be balanced in government. Therefore, we should not rely on the executive branch to ensure liberty, and a reasonable balance is more likely to be reached by allocating this power to a different branch. There should thus be a clearly expressed congressional resolution of citizen detention
Also notes that gov't's argument regarding Article II is weak (looks to Jackson's opinion in Youngstown to say that where the President acts contrary to congressional will, presidential authority is at its lowest ebb.
He shouldn't have to make a judgment on what process D is required because of his opinion, but he joins with the Court in ordering remand based on the terms closest to those he would impose. D should have the benefit of the opportunity to refute the factual claims on remand.
Decision below should be reversed because a citizen waging war against his own country should be tried for treason or some other crime in federal court.
Congress can relax these protections where the exigencies of war prevent that, but it must do so under the Constitution's Suspension Clause: Article 1 Sect 9 Clause 2. It did not do so here.
If civil rights are to be curtailed during wartime, it must be done openly and democratically, as the Constitution requires, rather than by silent erosion through an opinion of this Court.
There is no reason to remand the case and the habeas claim should fail because the executive branch has acted through the President's constitutional powers to declare that D is an enemy combatant and should be detained.
The Federal gov't's power should not be balanced by the Court, and the plurality fails to address the gov't's compelling interests.