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Friday, Feb 23, 2007, 6:34 am

Supreme Court Denies Plea of Accused for Explanation of Charges Against Him

By Brian Zick

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Literally out of Franz Kafka's The Trial. The Supreme Court of the United States has declared that the accused is not allowed to know precisely what the charges are against him.

Lyle Denniston for SCOTUSblog reports:
The Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon refused to order the Pentagon to provide to a Guantanamo Bay detainee, Yemeni national Sharaf Al Sanani, information on why he is being held as an "enemy combatant." The application (Al Sanani v. Bush, 06A797) had been filed with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. He referred it to the full Court, and it was then denied -- without an opinion and with no indication of any dissent.

The Justice Department had urged the Court to deny any relief to Al Sanani, and that was the effect of the Court's brief order. Here is the text of the order: "The application for an injunction requiring the production of a factual return, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 2243, pending the filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari, presented to The Chief Justice and by him referred to the Court, is denied."

Because there was no explanation, there is no way to interpret the Court's rationale, including whether it acted for its own reasons or because of some or all of the Justice Department's contentions -- including an argument that the Court should not be involved in overseeing the day to day processing in District Court of habeas matters, and an argument that the federal courts had lost jurisdiction over habeas cases under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, as the D.C. Circuit Court ruled on Tuesday in pending habeas cases. The impact of the MCA on the Supreme Court's jurisdiction will be an issue in a forthcoming appeal from the D.C. Circuit by detainees' lawyers.
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