Ali v. Trump

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

January 11, 2018

Current Status 

A panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied Ali's appeal on May 15, 2020. Ali asked the panel and the full Court to reconsider the decision in a rehearing petition filed on July 13, 2020; the Court denied that motion on July 29, 2020. A petition for review by the Supreme Court would be due December 26, 2020. 

 

Co-Counsel 

H. Candace Gorman, Law Office of H. Candace Gorman

Client(s) 

Case Description 

Ali v. Trump is a federal habeas corpus petition brought on behalf of Abdul Razak Ali (also known as Saeed Bakhouch), an Algerian citizen detained without charge at Guantánamo Bay since 2002. One of the main government justifications for his continued detention is the contested allegation that he was staying in the same guest house in Pakistan as Abu Zubaydah—a man who was mistakenly regarded by the Bush administration as a senior figure in al-Qaeda, and who is also currently detained without charge at Guantanamo. Abu Zubyadah arrived a few days before the house was raided in March 2002. Ali maintains that he did not know anyone else staying at the house he was captured in, that during his time there he never saw anything illegal take place, and that he never had military training.

Ali is one of 11 petitioners who collectively filed the first major challenge to the Trump's administration's Guantánamo policies in January 2018 in federal court in Washington, D.C. This filing argued that the petitioners' perpetual detentions violate the Constitution and the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and are undergirded by the Trump's executive hubris and anti-Muslim animus. The Center for Constitutional Rights joined co-counsel to represent Ali in 2018, and argued his motion in March 2018.

Ali v. Trump raises the fundamental question as to whether the Due Process Clause of the Constitution applies at Guantánamo. The clause mandates that the government must use fair procedures—"due process"—if it deprives a person of life, liberty, or property. If it applies at Guantánamo, many of the legal rules currently governing how the individual cases are decided (permitting, for example, indefinite detention based on an anonymous source's claim the detainee was seen in a house with suspect individuals) would be overturned. Applying the Due Process Clause would not only prohibit detaining men based on weak, untestable evidence, but also should set an upper time limit on detention, such as this, without criminal charge.

In August 2018, the district court judge denied Ali's motion for relief, stating that he felt constrained by Court of Appeals decisions implying that the Due Process Clause did not apply at Guantánamo. Ali appealed, and a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard the case on December 11, 2019. On May 15, 2020, the panel unanimously rejected Ali's appeal. Ali filed a petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc on July 13, 2020; the court denied it on July 29, and the deadline for asking the Supreme Court for review is currently December 26, 2020.

Case Timeline

July 29, 2020
Court denies request for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc
July 29, 2020
Court denies request for panel rehearing and rehearing en banc
The D.C. Circuit denies reconsideration by the three-judge panel or rehearing by the full eleven-judge court (plus Senior Judge Randolph, who was on the original panel). No judge requested a formal vote.
July 13, 2020
Ali files petition for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc
July 13, 2020
Ali files petition for panel rehearing or rehearing en banc
Ali seeks rehearing of the panel opinion, arguing that the panel improperly held that Circuit precedent foreclosed all his claims under the Due Process Clause -- even though no parties previously before the court had specifically argued that the Due Process Clause applied at Guantanamo.
May 15, 2020
Court of Appeals affirms result below
May 15, 2020
Court of Appeals affirms result below
The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in an opinion by Judge Millett, rejects all claims under Due Process Clause, finding that, as to substantive due process claims, danger of release is already considered by Periodic Review Boards, and as to prcedural due process, claims were neither sufficiently applied to the individual case nor calibrated to the military detention environment.
December 11, 2019
Oral argument scheduled before Judges Rogers, Millett, and Randolph
December 11, 2019
Oral argument scheduled before Judges Rogers, Millett, and Randolph
July 23, 2019
Petitioner files reply brief
July 23, 2019
Petitioner files reply brief
July 17, 2019
Respondents file response brief
July 17, 2019
Respondents file response brief
May 23, 2019
Amicus briefs filed in support of Petitioner
May 15, 2019
Petitioner files opening merits brief and appendix
May 15, 2019
Petitioner files opening merits brief and appendix
August 10, 2018
Court denies Ali’s motion for relief
August 10, 2018
Court denies Ali’s motion for relief
Judge Leon is the first to judge to rule in these series of habeas cases, denying Ali’s motion for relief.
March 9, 2018
Petitioners file reply brief
March 9, 2018
Petitioners file reply brief
February 16, 2018
Defendants file opposition brief
February 16, 2018
Defendants file opposition brief
January 22, 2018
Amicus briefs filed in support of Petitioners
January 22, 2018
Amicus briefs filed in support of Petitioners
Muslim, Faith-Based, and Civil Rights groups, Due Process scholars, and the Center for Victims of Torture file amicus briefs supporting Petitioners' motion.
January 18, 2018
Court issues scheduling order
January 18, 2018
Court issues scheduling order
Court orders government to provide information about its Guantánamo policy.
January 11, 2018
Eleven Guantánamo detainees file motion for order granting writ of habeas corpus
January 11, 2018
Eleven Guantánamo detainees file motion for order granting writ of habeas corpus
Collective filing on behalf of 11 men, argues that Trump’s proclamation against releasing anyone from Guantánamo, regardless of their circumstances, which has borne out for the first full year of the Trump presidency, is arbitrary and unlawful and amounts to “perpetual detention for detention’s sake.”