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Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) (Essay Sample)



Due to the ruling in the Colegrove v. Green case, states that had not reapportioned since

1990 were not bound constitutionally to do so. This led to problems in the Tennessee

between rural an urban voters (105). The legislator was overwhelmingly backed by urban

constituents and was not inclined to change the districts. This left the rural population

looking elsewhere for redress. They claimed that under the 14th Amendment’s equal

protection clause every person had to be treated fairly under the law. The applied this to

their voting rights and the reapportionment of their state.


Constitutional Provision:

  • • 14th Amendment; Equal Protection Clause
  • • Article IV, Section 3 (Guaranty Clause)


Legal Question:

  • • Can the court here this case in terms of justiciability, due to the political nature of

the controversy?

  • • Does the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause apply here? Or does it fall

under the Guaranty Clause?



  • • Court recognizes that if the controversy has a political nature it does not

necessarily mean that the court is answering a political question.

  • • The court does not hear cases involving a political question because of the

separation of powers.

  • • A court can in special circumstances interpret a treaty where no “government

action” has been taken (107).

  • • Where criteria are plainly laid out for decision the court may become involved


  • • Various components can make a political question, but all are included as part of

the separation of powers.

  • • Guaranty clause claims deal with the elements involved in political questions



  • • Luther v. Borden states that the court cannot use the Guaranty Clause as a way to

“identify a State’s lawful government” (108).

  • • The court has not been asked to take measures outside their purview and

recognize that the people of Tennessee, who are bringing suit, have sought every

other remedy possible.

  • Concurring; Justice Clark: Clark agrees that a violation has occurred of the Equal

Protection Clause, however, cautions that the nature of the dispute is complicated

and would not agree if there was any other option to the voters.


Law case
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Case: Hamdi V. Rumsfeld
Course: 443 U.S. 765
Date: (2004)
Facts of the case:
Yaser Hamdi, a citizen of United States, was detained by the American military in Afghanistan during 2001. Hamdi was accused of assisting the Taliban to fight against United States, and therefore was considered as an “enemy combatant.” Hamdi was imprisoned, and later he was transferred to be detained in a military jail in Virginia. A defense lawyer in Virginia (Frank Dunham) presented a habeas petition in federal court. Moreover, Hamdi’s father contended that U.S government had breached the Due Process protecting his son under the Fifth Amendment right. Hamdi’s father argued that by holding his son indefinitely and not allowing him to have a trial or have a lawyer for defending him, U.S government infringed the right to Due Process under the Fifth Amendment. U.S government defended itself that during the wartime, the executive branch had the legal right to declare individuals who fight against America as “enemy combatants.” The government, therefore, considered itself having the right of detaining individuals declared “enemy combatants” within the court system.
The district court made its ruling and defended Hamdi by instructing the government to free him. During the appeal of the case, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals jury reversed the case arguing that the separation of powers expected federal courts to conduct restraint during the period of wartime. The jury panel explained that the legislative and executive branches were structured to administer over the events of oversea conflict in a manner that the judiciary was not obligated to supervise. The jury panel, thus, ruled that it should delay the executive branch’s determination on “enemy combatant.”
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