LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Today the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5 to 4 decision that the federal government cannot undermine the protections of the Constitution simply by choosing where to imprison suspects.

In the majority decision written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the court held that the political branches of government do not have 'the power to switch the Constitution on or off at will'_' and that ''_The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.'

The decision establishes that a group of detainees who have been held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay are entitled to habeas corpus, which gives prisoners the right to challenge the legality of their incarceration in a court of law.

'This is a victory for the Constitution, although a narrow one,' said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. 'Nothing is more fundamental to American liberties than the writ of habeas corpus. Given the closeness of the victory, 'The Great Writ' remains in danger.'

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