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US Supreme Court Hears Case that Tests President's Wartime Powers

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to consider a case Tuesday that could be a significant test of the president's wartime powers.

The case challenges special military tribunals established by the Bush administration to try military prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba

It was brought by Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose lawyers claim that a tribunal would not provide him with a fair hearing and that the president did not have the power to establish the tribunals.

The Bush administration says that as commander in chief during wartime, the president has the authority to set up the tribunals.

A U.S. federal judge had shut down Hamdan's military trial in 2004.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who ruled on the matter in a lower court, has disqualified himself from hearing the case.

Hamdan was captured in Afghanistan in 2001. He is charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, murder and terrorism.

The Supreme Court last ruled on this issue in 2004 when it said that enemy combatants are entitled to having their cases heard.

Since that ruling, Congress has passed a new law that allows prisoners like Hamdan, access to U.S. courts only after conviction by a military tribunal.

The Detainee Treatment Act also attempts to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on this issue.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.