Thursday, June 12, 2008

Supreme Court Justices Rule Terror Detainees in Guantanamo Can Take Cases to Federal Judges

The Supreme Court ruled that foreign prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay may challenge their detention before a federal judge, opening the door to the first-ever independent review of the reasons hundreds of men have been held at the offshore naval base for as long as six years. The 5-4 decision is the third in four years to reject the White House's claims of power over prisoners it deems enemy combatants. Taken together, the rulings repudiate President Bush's view that the 9/11 attacks imbued him with authority to set aside civil liberties akin to the authority that President Lincoln assumed in the Civil War and President Roosevelt asserted during World War II. Several justices, looking at the length of detentions and what they suggested was the administration's failure to follow the spirit of their prior rulings, expressed exasperation at the executive. Justice David Souter, in a concurring opinion that two other justices joined, described the ruling as "an act of perseverance in trying to make habeas review … mean something."

That is quite emphatic. Maybe now the government will listen. Though Bush is unhappy: Mr. Bush was unhappy with the ruling. "We'll abide by the court's decision. That doesn't mean I have to agree with it," the president said during a press conference in Rome. "It was a deeply divided court, and I strongly agree with those who dissented."

5-4: ALito, Thomas, Scalia and Roberts on the right; Breyer, Ginsburg, Stevens, SOuter and Kennedy in the majority. Imagine if McCain gets to appoint a Justice.

The Constitution provides that habeas may only be suspended upon invasion or rebellion.

Seems clear. Not enough for Roberts and Scalia: "Today the Court strikes down as inadequate the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants. The political branches crafted these procedures amidst an ongoing military conflict, after much careful investigation and thorough debate. The Court rejects them today out of hand, without bothering to say what due process rights the detainees possess, without explaining how the statute fails to vindicate those rights, and before a single petitioner has even attempted to avail himself of the law’s operation." —Chief Justice John Roberts writing in dissent. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion, in which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Thomas and Alito joined. Huh?

How di the US get Guantanamo, I've long wondered. By lease, I found out by googling Guantanamo lease.

With the Bush administration moving toward its close and both major candidates for president critical, in different degrees, of the Guantanamo detentions, Thursday's ruling is a blow to the outgoing president's legacy.

Legacy? What legacy? Of failure, arrogance, unilateralism, tilting toward the rich, favoring certain corporate supporters, of lying and deception.

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