The International Committee of the Red Cross and some human rights groups
have criticized the United States for holding the detainees without filing
formal charges or scheduling timely trials.
The appeal is supported by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.
Steven Watt, a spokesman for the group, said "it is great that the Supreme
Court has actually taken this and they are going to make a decision, which
we hope will be in favor of our clients, that the United States courts will
have some form of jurisdiction over the claims of the detainees at Guantanamo
The Supreme Court says it will determine whether the detainees should have
access to the U.S. civilian court system. Lower courts have agreed with the
Bush administration that the civilian court system does not have jurisdiction
because the detainees are being held outside the country. The administration
cites a World War II case in which German prisoners of war being held by the
United States in China were denied access to federal courts.
A Supreme Court decision on the Guantanamo detainees is expected by June
of next year.
In another ruling, the high court refused to hear an appeal from an Islamic
charity that had its assets impounded by the U.S. government in the months
following the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The charity, known as the Global Relief Foundation, says it was put out of
business by the government crackdown. The Treasury Department says it shut
down the charity after it found evidence of communication between foundation
officials and Osama bin Laden's personal secretary.