Boumediene, Munaf, and the Supreme Court?s Misreading of the Insular Cases

Author:Andrew Kent
Position:Associate Professor, Fordham Law School
Pages:101-180
SUMMARY

Professor Kent argues that in Boumediene and Munaf the Supreme Court mistakenly relied on the Insular Cases for its theory that enemies have constitutional rights during military conflict by (i) misreading the Insular Cases the Court cited, (ii) ignoring others that were relevant, and (iii) misunderstanding the relevant historical events.

 
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101
Boumediene, Munaf, and the Supreme
Court’s Misreading of the Insular Cases
Andrew Kent
INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................... 103
I. BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW OF ARGUMENT ....................................... 103
A. THE CONSTITUTIONS DISPUTED SCOPE: GLOBALISM AND HUMAN-
RIGHTS UNIVERSALISM ..................................................................... 103
B. THE 2008 DECISIONS ....................................................................... 105
C. THE INSULAR CASES ......................................................................... 107
D. THE 2008 COURT MISCONSTRUES THE INSULAR CASES ..................... 110
E. OVERVIEW OF THE ARGUMENT .......................................................... 116
II. THE WAR OF 1898 AND TERRITORIAL EXPANSION ................................ 118
III. THE GREAT DEBATE ABOUT IMPERIALISM ............................................. 122
A. THE CONSTITUTION DID NOT PROTECT MILITARY ENEMIES .............. 123
B. THE CONSTITUTION DID NOT PROTECT NONCITIZENS RIGHTS
OUTSIDE OF THE SOVEREIGN TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES ........ 123
1. Did the Constitution Follow the Flag? .................................. 127
2. The Ex Proprio Vigore Doctrine of Anti-Expansionists
Held That the First Moment at Which the Constitution
Could Apply Was Annexation by the United States ............ 130
IV. PUERTO RICO UNDER U.S. MILITARY GOVERNMENT ............................. 132
A. U.S. MILITARY GOVERNMENT OF PUERTO RICO BEFORE THE
TREATY OF PEACE AND CESSION WENT INTO EFFECT .......................... 134
B. PEACETIME U.S. MILITARY GOVERNMENT IN PUERTO RICO: AFTER
THE TREATY OF PEACE AND CESSION WENT INTO EFFECT BUT
BEFORE CONGRESS CREATED A CIVIL GOVERNMENT ........................... 136
1. U.S. Provisional Court for the Department of Porto Rico .. 138
Associate Professor, Fordham Law School. Marc Arkin, Christina Duffy Burnett, José
A. Cabranes, Guyon Knight, Henry Monaghan and Julian Mortenson provided helpful
comments on earlier drafts, as did Bill Treanor, Tom Lee, Gráinn e de Búrca, and the other
participants in the Fordham Faculty Scholarship Retreat, and Jeremy Rabkin, Ilya Somin, and
other participants at a George Mason Law School scholarship workshop.
102 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 97:101
2. Tariff Cases ............................................................................. 141
V. THE U.S. MILITARY IN AND AROUND CUBA, 1898–1902 ...................... 143
A. CASES INVOLVING SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR MILITARY OPERATIONS ... 143
1. Naval Seizure of Enemy Vessels as Prizes of War ................. 143
2. Other Military Measures Against Enemy Civilians ............... 144
B. THE NEGLECTED CASE OF NEELY V. HENKEL (1901) ........................ 145
C. BOUMEDIENES CONSPIRACY THEORY ABOUT THE ACQUISITION
AND LEGAL STATUS OF THE GUANTANAMO BASE ................................ 149
VI. THE LIMITED DOMAIN OF THE DOCTRINE OF TERRITORIAL
INCORPORATION .................................................................................... 155
A. DOWNES V. BIDWELL (1901) .......................................................... 155
B. DE LIMA V. BIDWELL (1901) AND OTHER EARLY INSULAR CASES ..... 159
C. RASMUSSEN MAKES “INCORPORATION THE LAW OF THE LAND ......... 160
D. BOUMEDIENES MISREADING OF BALZAC V. PORTO RICO ................ 163
VII. NAVAL STATIONS, COALING STATIONS, AND OTHER MILITARY
OUTPOSTS .............................................................................................. 164
A. MOST ANTI-EXPANSIONISTS DID NOT THINK IT
UNCONSTITUTIONAL TO INSTITUTE PERMANENT MILITARY
GOVERNMENT OVER NAVAL OUTPOSTS AND COALING STATIONS ......... 165
B. A CASE STUDY ON GUAM AND SAMOA: FORGOTTEN ISLANDS OF THE
UNITED STATES, GOVERNED BY MILITARY POWER FOR DECADES ......... 167
CONCLUSION ......................................................................................... 174
APPENDIX ............................................................................................... 177
TABLE 1 ................................................................................................. 177
TABLE 2 ................................................................................................. 180
2011] BOUMEDIENE, MUNAF, AND THE INSULAR CASES 103
INTRODUCTION
In 2008, the Supreme Court embraced both global constitutionalism—
the view that the Constitution provides judicially enforceable rights to
noncitizens outside the sovereign territory of the United States—and what I
call human-rights universalism—the view that the Constitution protects
military enemies during armed conflict. Boumediene v. Bush found a
constitutional right to habeas corpus for noncitizens detained as enemy
combatants at the Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba,1 while Munaf v.
Geren—decided the same day as Boumediene and involving U.S. citizens
detained in Iraq during the war there—hinted that the Due Process Clause
might be a limit on the U.S. military’s ability to cooperate in a foreign nation
on security detention matters during an armed conflict.2 In both Boumediene
and Munaf, the Court reached back for supportive precedents to an earlier
era of U.S. empire: the period of territorial expansion and military
interventions following the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Court then
decided important cases about the legality of U.S. military and civil activities
in the newly annexed islands of Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the Philippines,
and in Cuba, where the United States was conducting its first humanitarian
intervention. A handful of the most famous decisions are known as the
Insular Cases—“insular” because the cases concerned U.S. activities in these
islands. In 2008, the Court relied substantially on a few Insular Cases to
sketch a vision of a global Constitution protecting rights around the world,
even for military enemies. But in so relying on the Insular Cases, the Court
in 2008 erred. Little that it wrote about the Insular Cases was correct—as to
law or fact. The Court in 2008 misunderstood that the Insular Cases were
highly relevant to contemporary legal disputes precisely because they reject
global constitutionalism and human-rights universalism. This occurred
because the Court misread the few Insular Cases it discussed, failed to
consider many more Insular Cases that were on point, and misconstrued key
historical facts regarding the U.S. intervention in Cuba and acquisition of
the Guantanamo Bay naval facility.
I. BACKGROUND AND OVERVIEW OF ARGUMENT
A. THE CONSTITUTIONS DISPUTED SCOPE: GLOBALISM AND HUMAN-RIGHTS
UNIVERSALISM
Boumediene v. Bush and Munaf v. Geren, decided the same day in 2008,
represent an enormously significant inflection point in U.S. constitutional
law. In these decisions, the Supreme Court embraced two related theories of
the scope of constitutional protections that represent profound departures
1. Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008).
2. Munaf v. Geren, 553 U.S. 674 (2008).

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