The detainees’ rights cases that the Supreme Court will hear at its next Term focus on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but the Court’s willingness to take on that dispute continues to have an impact on other captives, not at Guantanamo. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler turned down, for the time being, a Justice Department move to dismiss a case involving two Afghans who have been held in a U.S. military prison at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.

Noting the Supreme Court’s grant of review in Boumediene v. Bush (06-1197), Judge Kessler denied “without prejudice” the motion to dismiss “until the Supreme Court has ruled definitively on the issue of this District Court’s jurisdiction.” The case before her is Ruzatullah, et al., v. Gates (District Court docket 06-1707). Her order can be found here.

That case involves an individual named simply Ruzatullah, and another, Haji Rohullah. “Though they have committed no wrong,” their most recent habeas petition (filed last January) argues, “they are being held unlawfully and virtually incommunicado in military custody” at the Bagram base The Justice Department on Jan. 29 began its effort to have the case dismissed, arguing that “the federal habeas statute has never been interpreted to apply to provide aliens held at military bases overseas a right to habeas relief.”

More recently, the Department has added an argument for dismissal, saying that Ruzatullah has been released from the Bagram prison, and turned over to Afghan authorities. Ruzatullah’s lawyers, however, are contesting that move, arguing that it does not end the case.

Even though the cases differ in significant ways from the Guantanamo case, Judge Kessler’s order makes it appear that some judges see the coming Boumediene ruling by the Supreme Court as potentially having a wider reach. Another District judge, John Bates, issued an order similar to Kessler’s on July 18. A post about Judge Bates’ order can be found here.

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