The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether federal courts have the power to order prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay to be released into the United States.
The case concerns 17 men from the largely Muslim Uighur region of western China who continue to be held although the government has determined that they pose no threat to the United States.
Last October, a federal judge here ordered the men released. But a federal appeals court reversed that ruling in February, saying that judges do not have the power to override immigration laws and force the executive branch to release foreigners into the United States.
An appeal from the Uighurs has been pending in the Supreme Court since April, and it is not clear why the justices acted on it now. The Obama administration has sent some of the prisoners to Bermuda, and Palau has said it will accept most of the rest. But one prisoner apparently has nowhere to go.
See more coverage of Uighur Guantanamo Bay detainees via CDT.