When President George W. Bush formulated the concept of an American Devil’s Island in Cuba, he did so heedless of the damage to the Constitution his experiment in torture and confinement without end would bring about. Bush made the case that torture and confinement at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay would allow the government to do its job.
He boasted that the Constitution shouldn’t restrain him, federal laws wouldn’t apply, and federal judges couldn’t interfere.
He was, of course, wrong on all counts. The Supreme Court ruled on six Gitmo cases; and the government lost five. In the case in which the government prevailed, the court ruled that the detainee filed his complaint in the wrong city.
The five cases that the government lost established that federal courts do have jurisdiction over the place where the government goes for more than just a fleeting moment. The court knew that British kings would often have prisoners whom they wished to torture or detain without trial brought to foreign colonies for those purposes. The Framers of the Constitution abhorred that practice and wrote the Constitution so it wouldn’t happen here.