Sample Case Study on Padilla vs. Rumsfeld Cases

Rumsfeld v. Padilla

Rumsfeld v. Padilla is an example of the case filed in the United States Supreme Court whereby Jose Padilla filed a habeas corpus against Donald Rumsfeld, who was the Secretary of Defense. The habeas corpus aimed to protect Padilla from being unlawfully detained by the military. Padilla claimed that such actions were tantamount to unlawful combatant. Padilla is a citizen of the United States who flew to Chicago from Pakistan after the September 9/11 attacks. On arrival to the airport, Padilla was arrested by military officials. Initially, he was classified as a material witness before being classified as an enemy combatant in later stages. Enemy combatants are readily imprisoned in the United States, and thus, Padilla would suffer the same fate (Chemerinsky, 2006). Padilla would also not be provided with legal resources or access and was held the same way the United States held them in the war on terror. Padilla’s attorney claimed to act as a friend filed the habeas corpus petition. The petition filed at District Court, Southern District of New York denied the petition and held the view that the President of the United States had authority to designate an individual as being an enemy combatant after they had been captured on American soil. Since the Secretary of Defense acts for the president, the views were held to be right (Pious, 2006). Thus, Padilla was to be captured for the entire time when the country was in armed conflict with Al Qaeda. The Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit held the view that the President lacked any authority to conduct and detain American citizens in their country of origin. This ruling was made after an appeal was lodged at the above court. The Supreme Court ruled that the president had powers to detain any individual considered to be an enemy or otherwise risk running against the Non-Detention Act, which requires that all citizens of the United States be detained pursuant to an Act of Congress (Pious, 2006). The Supreme Court never gave a ruling but required the petition to be filed afresh since it had been improperly filed.

The case of Padilla highlighted the rights that were denied to all people who had been arrested and imprisoned at Guantanamo bay. Such rights include the right of filing a petition, which was to be heard and decided in a court of law. The Supreme Court of the United States had initially ruled that it was unconstitutional for anyone to be denied a right to see a judge or file a petition (Pious, 2006). Thus by keeping them at Guantanamo Bay and not allowing them to file a petition denied them their rights. Secondly, the United State supreme court requires that a habeas corpus shall never be suspended unless there is a case of rebellion or invasion. To the best of Padilla, such threats were not warranted (Pious, 2006). Additionally, the Non- Detention Act requires the president of the United States only to detain citizens after approval by Congress. Essentially, this never happened meaning many rights were left out in the above case.

Ex parte Quirin

Ex parte Quirin is a case brought before the United States Supreme Court in 1944 during the Second World War. The case involved eight individuals, two American and six Germans who attempted to sneak in the United States at the height of the Nazi war and after the invasion by the Japans on Pearl Harbor and attack the United States (Kent, 2013). The decision set forth by the court has been used as a precedent for unlawful combatants. The decision arrived at the court required a distinction to be drawn between peaceful populations and armed forces. This was also referred to as the law of war. The difference was to separate belligerent nations and those perceived to be lawful and unlawful combatants of war (Kent, 2013). All lawful combatants had to be arrested and be subjected to both detention and torture since they were prisoners of war. Any unlawful combatants were to be subjected to capture, detention and were to be punished and tried by the military tribunals, which was either to determine if the acts committed fell under belligerency. Spies who would enter countries without entering any non-military uniforms seeking to gather information that was to be passed and used to an enemy were also subjected to a trial by the military (DeVeaux, 2009). Enemy combatants who would pass borders without uniforms and enter for the sole purpose of starting or waging a war were never to been entitled to the status of a prisoner of war and in such a case they were not to be subjected to the similar laws as individuals as normal offenders (Kent, 2013). They were required to follow the set down procedures in which they were to be tried by military tribunals. In the case of the eight suspects, they entered the united states wearing military uniforms so that if they could be captured they could be associated with prisoners of war. In reality, they were never military men but were military combatants (DeVeaux, 2009). Thus, the above argument by Qurin can justify why there were a large number of either prisoners of war or enemy combatants in Guantanamo bay.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case came to the Supreme Court of the United States where Hamdi, a United States citizen was caught in Afghanistan during the war after the September 9/11 attacks. Hamdi was born in the United States and later raised in Saudi Arabia. Later on at a young age, Hamdi went to Afghan to seek employment. Hamdi was captured alongside other individuals and taken to Guantanamo bay (Hartz, 2013). Moreover, Hamdi was classified as an enemy combatant and therefore there was no judicial mechanism that was applied in the case against Rumsfeld. It was stated that the president of the United States had rights to detain an individual under the Authorization of Military Force. This law was in place to detain all enemy combatants planning any activity against the United States (Hartz, 2013). As a consequence, such individuals would be detained without due process. The United States Supreme Court ruled that it had jurisdiction to rule on such a matter and that by the fact that Hamdi was a United States Citizen, the judicial due process  was to be followed in determining whether or not Hamdi had changed the current alleged enemy combatant trait as labeled by the United States government. As a result, a habeas corpus was filed, and due process was followed which led to the acquittal of Hamdi against the majority of allegations presented in court (Hartz, 2013). In essence, the United States Supreme Court requires that all of its citizens be tried following the due process. It also expects the court to allow United States citizens to denounce their enemy combatant deeds against their country.


Chemerinsky, E. (2006). Assault on the Constitution: Executive Power and the War on     Terrorism, The. UC Davis L. Rev., 40, 1.

DeVeaux, C. (2009). Rationalizing the Constitution: The Military Commissions Act and the         Dubious Legacy of Ex Parte Quirin. Akron Law Review, 42(1).

Hartz, E. (2013). Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. In From the American Civil War to the War on Terror (pp. 75-86). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Kent, A. (2013). Judicial review for enemy fighters: the court’s fateful turn in Ex parte Quirin,      the Nazi Saboteur Case. Vanderbilt Law Review, 66, 153.

Pious, R. M. (2006). The war on terrorism and the rule of law. Oxford University Press, USA.