Hilzoy thinks she can, but her arguments amount only to extravagant assertions that everyone, everywhere, and at all times, in peace and in war, tra la! has the same judicial rights and the same access to US courts as a US civilian accused of a domestic crime in peacetime residing in the United States.
who has habeas rights? And where do they extend? The court’s answer to the first question (who?) is, basically: everyone has them. (Meaning: if you are detained by the US government, in circumstances in which habeas rights would normally obtain, your lack of citizenship is no obstacle.)
Shooting at US forces in Afghanistan or conspiring in Karachi to arrange attacks on the civilian populations of US cities are the kinds of circumstances in which people normally enjoy the protections of US citizenship and the protection of US courts? Apparently that’s what Hilzoy, a graduate of Princeton, thinks.
if we accept the government’s argument, we would concede that it can legally do what it has tried to do in fact: to create a legal black hole in which it can act outside the law and the Constitution. We cannot do that.
This is, to my mind, the most important holding in the opinion. It defends the separation of powers against an attempt by the Executive to free itself from the constraint of law. That is immensely important.
From Hilzoy’s perspective, there is no legal distinction whatsoever between the United States and foreign soil, no issues of distance, remoteness, or lack of US sovereignty matter. There is no difference between US citizens and aliens, and there is no difference between peace and war.
One expects Hilzoy (and perhaps Justice Kennedy, too) to leap in front of the muzzle of some frontline marine’s rifle, crying out: “Don’t you shoot that chap in the turban (the one firing the AK47)! He’s entitled to counsel, a fair trial, and a full course of appeals before he can be punished. Don’t you go violating his rights, you brute.