The New York Times reports that the ruling was the first of its kind in nearly seven years of legal battles over the administration's broad definition of its wartime powers. Federal courts and the Supreme Court have previously examined the legality of detention policies at Guantánamo. Tuesday's hearing was in response to a habeas corpus lawsuit filed on behalf of the 17 men.
"I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for detention," Judge Urbina said.
Saying the men had never fought the United States and were not a security threat, he tersely rejected Bush administration claims that he lacked the power to order the men set free in the United States and government requests that he stay his order to permit an immediate appeal....
Judge Urbina, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, underscored the significance of his ruling with repeated references to the constitutional separation of powers and the judiciary's role.
He rejected Justice Department arguments as assertions of executive power to detain people indefinitely without court review. He said that "is not in keeping with our system of government."