Wrong Claim, Wrong Party, Wrong Court: Assessing the Petition Brought by a Coalition of Clergy, Lawyers, & Professors on Behalf of Detainees Held by the U.S. Military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
April 5, 2002John C. Eastman
“In this case, the wrong claim was brought by the wrong party in the wrong jurisdiction.” That opening line, from D.C. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards’ 1998 opinion in Alamo v. Clay, a case in which a church congregation sought to have their pastor released from prison, perfectly describes the habeas corpus petition filed in United States District Court for the Central District of California on January 20 by a coalition of clergy, lawyers, and professors, ostensibly on behalf of the incarcerated Taliban and al Quada prisoners currently being held by the U.S. Military in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As the District Court rightly held in its order dismissing the petition, the self-styled group of civil rights lawyers who brought the petition have no standing; the Central District of California has no territorial jurisdiction over persons being detained in Guantanamo Bay; and, indeed, the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the writ of habeas corpus does not extend to non-citizens beyond the borders and sovereign authority of the United States.