Friday, September 04, 2009

Supreme Court to rule on Khadr appeal today

A reminder that the Supreme Court is going to announce this morning whether it intends to hear the Harper government's appeal of the Khadr case. Perhaps of note, it's being reported that the speed at which the court has arrived at this decision is unusual. It was just last week, August 25th, that the federal government announced it would appeal the case. So, they've either decided quickly to dismiss the appeal...or are (obviously) aware of the significance of the case and are moving quickly to expedite the hearing of it.

I asked a constitutional law professor yesterday for a quick view on what the court might do. While he did not offer a definitive opinion and cautioned that the court can be hard to predict, he did point to the Supreme Court's prior decision last year in the Khadr matter. And suggested that given the same facts being at issue, with only a different remedy now being sought, they may refuse leave to appeal.

If you take a look back at the 2008 Khadr Supreme Court case, that decision was a unanimous one delivered by the entire court. That may be telling for today's announcement. The 2008 case granted Khadr's request to have disclosed to him all records in the possession of the Canadian government, including records of the interviews conducted by CSIS officials with Khadr at Guantanamo Bay. The Supreme Court also set out quite clearly the participation by Canadian officials in a process that was contrary to Canada's international human rights obligations. That unique aspect of the Khadr case has been noted and relied upon in the two Federal Court rulings that have ordered the government to seek Khadr's repatriation.

Throw in the glaring historical context of the Court knowing that this Canadian citizen is the last westerner sitting in Guantanamo Bay which the Obama administration seeks to close...it's hard to believe that an appeal will proceed. But we shall see soon enough.