The US Supreme Court has issued a mixed ruling on the issue of holding Americans as enemy combatants, arguing that the President does have the right to designate someone as an enemy combatant, but also that they have the right to protest their incarceration in court.
I haven’t had a chance to read the decisions and won’t until the evening, but on a prima facie basis this seems like a reasonable decision. There is a need to incarcerate certain people as enemy combatants as they fit that decription. On the other hand, depriving them of all rights to trial can be seen as a serious breach of civil liberties. It all depends on how secret those trials can be — discussing information that would tip off other terrorists that we were on to them would seriously hinder the ability of law enforcement to prevent future terrorist attacks.
A balance must be struck between civil liberties as an absolute and the necessity of preventing mass-casualty terrorist attacks. The Court has the obligation to weight both on their relative merits, which may explain why the Court has given a split ruling in this case.
UPDATE: Eugene Volokh has some interesting thoughts as well. Scalia’s criticism of Rehnquist is highly interesting – the traditional liberal/conservative split in the Court doesn’t apply in this case. Scalia, considered the Court’s most conservative judge is actually siding with Stevens against Rehnquist and Thomas — not something one seems very often in SCOTUS decisions.