More “non-persons”, this time at Guantanamo

In ruling that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn’t apply to them, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declared that four British men being held at Guantanamo Bay are not “persons” under the Constitution. (PDF)

Because the plaintiffs are aliens and were located outside sovereign United States territory at the time their alleged RFRA claim arose, they do not fall with the definition of “person.”

Although this case was about the RFRA, I can’t see how this holding permits an objection to any action against the detainees, up to and including murder, on Constitutional grounds. Statute, treaty obligations, and the UCMJ may all prohibit murdering non-citizens outside of the United States, but is it really the case that the Constitution itself doesn’t deny that power to the government?

This is just one more reason we need an inclusive legal definition of the word “person”.

It won’t happen, but I can’t help imagining the following scenario: the lawyers for the detainees appeal their case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court overturns the D.C. Circuit Court’s ruling, declaring that the term “person” as used in the Constitution means any living human being (defined biologically as a member of the species Homo sapiens). Rasul v. Rumsfeld would be the case that overturned Roe v. Wade.