Contact: Andrew Rush
Director, Media Services & Public Affairs

June 24, 2008


Supports Boumediene v. Bush, Guantanamo BayDetainees Have Constitutional Right to Challenge Detention

At its annual summer meeting in Cooperstown, the New York State Bar Association passed a resolution that supports the United States Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which held that those who have been designated "enemy combatants" and detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are constitutionally entitled to habeas corpus, allowing them to now challenge in court the legality of their detention. The resolution was passed by the Association's House of Delegates, the official policy-making body of the organization.

Association President Bernice K. Leber (Arent Fox LLP) said, "Our nation is built upon key principles of justice and paramount among them has been that any person detained by the government has the right to go before a judge. To have ignored one of the most basic and essential tenets of our constitution would have been a dangerous precedent, contrary to the system of checks and balances that serves as the foundation of our democracy."

Leber continued, "The recent Supreme Court decision, while granting habeas corpus rights, leaves many questions unanswered. Our Committee on Civil Rights report, while addressing many of the open issues involving the right to habeas corpus, will now be revised in light of Boumediene v. Bush in order to provide recommendations on how to best provide detainees with the basic rights that, to date, they have not been receiving. The Association looks forward to actively participating as this critical national debate moves forward."

The resolution was offered in conjunction with a report from the Committee on Civil Rights entitled, "Executive Detention, Habeas Corpus and the Military Commissions Act of 2006." The report addresses a broad range of issues related to the Act, including the applicability of habeas corpus to detainees in Guantanamo Bayand other extra-territorial detention centers.

The report, completed prior to the Boumediene decision, will now be revised to address the following issues:

  • The Standards applicable to habeas corpus proceedings concerning Guantanamodetainees that will follow the Boumediene decision;
  • The specific rights that must be afforded to Guantanamodetainees in the proceedings against them; and
  • The specific rights of non-citizens detained as "enemy combatants" in other extra-territorial locations under the de facto control of the United States.

These recommendations will be made as soon as possible and it is anticipated they will be completed by August. The report is available on the Association's web site at

The 74,000 member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.