I. Handi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004)
Decided on Monday, June 28, 2004 by the United States Supreme Court

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II. Facts of the Case
Yaser Hamdi, an American citizen, was apprehended by the U.S. military in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001. The government had reason to believe Hamdi was aiding in the Taliban and was called an enemy combatant” before being sent to prison in Virginia. Hamdi’s attorney Frank Dunham, Jr., filed a habeas corpus petition in federal district court stating Hamdi’s detention was denying him due process under the Fifth Amendment because the government had not allowed him access to attorney or moved his case forward in a timely fashion. The government claimed the Executive Branch can act during a time of war to charge people that fight against their native land “enemy combatants” and under these conditions, the “enemy combatant” has very limited access to the court system.

The district court’s decision was in Hamdi’s favor and they stated the government needed to free him. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals negated the district court’s decision. They held the separation of powers ensured that federal courts must follow narrow guidelines during a time of armed conflict and enforced the government’s conditions to characterize an “enemy combatant.

III. Legal Issue(s)
Did the United States government deny Hamdi his due process rights under the Fifth Amendment by keeping him in prison for an indeterminate term, without contact with legal counsel because he was considered to be an “enemy combatant”?
Would the separation of powers doctrine put courts in a position where they must concur with the government’s determinations of what an “enemy combatant” is and when they make this determination?

IV. Holding
The court decided in Hamdi’s favor and decided that even though Hamdi’s detention was through the government, he should be allowed his due process rights before a neutral body that had the power to make a decision. They also ruled the separation of powers doctrine did not include a court from hearing Hamdi’s case.

V. Legal Rationale
That the due process in the Fifth Amendment does apply even if the government determines someone is fighting for the other side during a war or conflict. Essentially, it ruled the Fifth Amendment due process rights apply to anyone that is a United States citizen no matter what the circumstances are.

VI. Questions
It established that a person’s individual rights should not be violated even in times of war. The court did not deny the government’s right to assign someone as an “enemy combatant” but they still must provide them the opportunity to dispute why are they being charged and have the right to consult an attorney.

This is an issue that will certainly be reviewed again the coming years because of the terrorism the world is encountering. This case establishes a legal precedent for this type of case, but this might be reversed or altered in the future.