'De Facto Sovereignty': Boumediene and Beyond
54 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2008 Last revised: 2 Jun 2009
Date Written: September 29, 2008
In Boumediene v. Bush, which grants non-citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, constitutional habeas corpus privileges the Supreme Court took notice that the United States maintains "de facto sovereignty" over that territory. As its sole precedential support, the Court cited a case that never mentions the term de facto sovereignty. What is this concept? How important is it to the Court's holding? Did the Court get the concept right given its longstanding usage and meaning in Supreme Court precedent? And what can de facto sovereignty tell us about when the Court will find habeas to extend to other situations involving extraterritorial detention of non-citizens in the war on terror?
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