Kiyemba v. Obama

PETITIONER: Jamal Kiyemba, et al.
RESPONDENT: Barack Obama, President
LOCATION: Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp

DOCKET NO.: 08-1234
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 559 US 131 (2010)
GRANTED: Oct 20, 2009
DECIDED: Mar 01, 2010

Facts of the case

Seventeen ethnic Uighurs, Chinese citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay Naval- Base, Cuba sought federal habeas corpus relief in the District of Columbia federal district court. The petitioners argued that since they were no longer considered "enemy combatants" they were entitled to transfer and release from Guantanamo Bay. The petitioners feared that a transfer to China would lead to their arrest, torture, or execution. Therefore, they sought a transfer to the United States where they could be released safely. The district court granted the petition and ordered their transfer and release into the United States.

On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the district court, holding that the district court lacked authority to order the petitioners' transfer and release into the United States. The court reasoned that only the political branches of government may determine the admissibility of aliens into the United States. Without specific authorization by statute, treaty, or the Constitution, the district court could not grant the relief sought by the petitioners.

Question

Does a federal district court exercising its habeas corpus jurisdiction have the power to order the release of prisoners held under Executive Order at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into the United States?