Summary and Case Brief (IRAC)


Summary and Case Brief (IRAC)




Summary and Case Brief (IRAC)

Section 1

The Due Process Clause gives rise to any substantive due process claims that are relative to non-fundamental and fundamental rights. This also gives rise to the procedural due process claim. Due Process is the set of procedural safeguards established with an aim of regulating the exercise of power that plays a critical role in the protection of liberty, right to life and property. It is defined as, “Fundamental procedural legal safeguards of which every citizen has an absolute right when a state or court purports to take a decision that could affect any right of that citizen” (Pati, 2009).

The principles that govern the concept of Due Process are critical towards the protection of human rights. Human rights can only be protected if citizens are provided with adequate resources such as courts, impartial institutions, and tribunals to enjoy sufficient measures of independence in judgments devoid of administrative or governmental organs. This is critical towards ensuring that citizens are provided with efficient resolution to disputes in accordance to existing fair justice procedures.

Due Process can be traced to the Magna Carta in the English statutes established in 1354 that provides that

No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or disseized or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land” (Fotouh).

This was later incorporated into the United States Constitution within the Fifth Amendment adopted in 1791 and is provided as “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Pati, 2009). This is later affirmed in the Sixth Amendment that notes, “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial” (Pati, 2009). Such components in the American constitution provide a safeguard to the historical origin of the conditions for personal freedom, life, liberty, and property, which can only be achieved in the presence of institutional checks on arbitrary government actions.

Section 2


Hamdan V. Rumsfeld, Secretary Of Defense Et Al.

Certiorari to the United States Court Of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Argued March 28, 2006-Decided June 29, 2006 No. 05-184

Facts and Procedural History

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former chauffeur to Osama Bin Laden was captured by the afghan security agencies and subsequently imprisoned by the United States military in the renowned Guantanamo Bay. Salim Ahmed Hamdan filed a petition of writ of habeas corpus in a Federal District Court challenging his detention. He was subjected by a U. S military tribunal, which ruled that he was an enemy combatant before the District Court could rule on his petition for illegal detention (Pati, 2009). A few months after the designation by the military tribunal, the district court was able to grant him Habeas corpus petition by insisting that the prisoner must be provided with a court hearing to determine if he was truly a prisoner of war as provided under the Geneva Convention before being tried before a military commission. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia subsequently reversed the court’s decision by noting that the Geneva Convention was unenforceable in Federal Court and that establishment of military tribunals was a process authorized by congress, which rendered the entire process constitutional (Pati, 2009).

Legal Issue

Questions raised from this case include:

  1. Are the rights of individuals protected under the Geneva Convention enforceable in Federal Court by submission of writ Habeas Corpus petition?
  2. Was the United States military commission established with an aim of trying Salim Ahmed Hamdan and other parties for the allegations of war crimes within the war on terror authorized by the country’s congress or within the powers held by the President?


5 votes for Hamdan, 3 vote(s) against

Uniform Code of Military Justice

Yes and no

The United States Supreme Court held in 5-to-3 decision that was delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, which stated that neither the powers of the Executive nor an Act developed by Congress provided in the constitution provided in an express manner, authorization to develop a military commission as such developed in this case (Pati, 2009). With absence of express authorization, the commission should have ensured compliance with the ordinary laws established in the United States and more so the laws of war.

The Geneva Convention, as a section of the ordinary laws of war, should have therefore been used and enforced by the United States Supreme Court as well as enforcement of the constitutional United States Uniform Code of Military Justice. The exclusion of Salim Ahmed Hamdan from various critical components of trial that were deemed as classified by the United States military commission violated the Geneva convention and the united states constitution, which renders the entire trial illegal (Pati, 2009).

Dissenting opinions: Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito

No participation: Chief Justice John Roberts


It is important to note that the United States president does not have the express authority to ensure trying of prisoners of war. Despite the presence of critical issues of separation of powers, it is important to note that the Congress has the authority to legislate Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) as well as the Geneva Conventions. Furthermore, Congress established legislation towards functionality of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and its respective commission to avoid violations of the law (Pati, 2009).


The Court declined to evaluate the President’s power and role in creation of military commission during war. However, it stated that, such commissions are bound by guidelines. They should function within the laws provided in the constitution and international conventions that the country holds membership.

Section 3

Due Process is critical towards fair and just legal processes especially for individuals accused of grievous crimes as in the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan. The Article 10 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights notes that all individuals are entitled towards full equality in a fair public hearing that is headed by an impartial and independent tribunal with an aim of determination of the rights and obligations of the individual and any criminal charge levied giants the individual. The success of this case hinged on ensuring that Due Process was adhered to in terms of subjecting the individual in question to a fair and public hearing. This would have ensured adequacy in the administration of justice for the Americans deceased because of terror activities. Due process is central to the American constitution and its various statues. Due Process is critical towards ensuring limitations in terms of unfair and arbitrary acts by the government and its agencies that result in depriving the individual of his or her basic rights such as rights to life, property, and liberty that are enshrined within the constitution.

In this case, the prisoner was able to invoke and petition the courts on grounds of the writ habeas corpus such that the courts could determine the lawfulness of his detention or imprisonment. This is critical given that he was expressly denied access to critical aspects of his court proceedings before the military commission (Pati, 2009). The Writ Habeas Corpus petition sought to seek the grounds for his detention, denial of access to a speedy trial, and his holding in the Guantanamo Bay as a war prisoner. The Writ Habeas Corpus petition can be termed as a procedural remedy, given that is a guarantee to the concerned party against any form of unlawful detention or imprisonment.



Fotouh, J. A. (n.d.). LAWB 3319 Comparative Constitutional Law: Topic 7: Constitutional Rights: Due Process. Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU): Al Khobar.

Pati, R. (2009). Due process and international terrorism. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.




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