Guantanamo Bay detainees may not challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a federal appeals court said Tuesday in a ruling upholding a key provision of a law at the center of President Bush's anti-terrorism plan.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that civilian courts no longer have the authority to consider whether the military is illegally holding foreigners.
Barring detainees from the U.S. court system was a key provision in the Military Commissions Act, which Bush pushed through Congress last year to set up a system to prosecute terrorism suspects.
The ruling is all but certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which last year struck down the Bush administration's original plan for trying detainees before military commissions.
The Military Commissions Act was crafted in response to that decision and the president hailed it as a necessary tool for bringing terror suspects to justice.
Civil libertarians and leading Democrats decried the law as unconstitutional and a violation of American values. The law allows the government to indefinitely detain foreigners who have been designed as "enemy combatants" and authorizes the CIA to use aggressive but undefined interrogation tactics.
But the most criticized provision of the law was the one stripping U.S. courts of the authority to hear arguments from detainees who said they were being held illegally.
Attorneys argued that the detainees aren't covered by that provision and that the law is unconstitutional.