Thursday, June 12, 2008

Three strikes and you're out!

SCOTUS seems to have prompted this return of Thursday Constitution blogging.


Linda Greenhouse at The New York Times reports:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday delivered its third consecutive rebuff to the Bush administration’s handling of the detainees at Guantánamo Bay, ruling 5 to 4 that the prisoners there have a constitutional right to go to federal court to challenge their continued detention.

The court declared unconstitutional a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that, at the administration’s behest, stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus petitions from the detainees seeking to challenge their designation as enemy combatants.

I am so flipping stoked by this. What a great thing to come home to after a very long and intense day at work.

Those who have been paying attention, those who care about the rule of law, those who cherish our Constitution have all noted that the Bush administration's behavior has been resolutely lawless. They have no concern for ancient traditions (making them anything but conservative) and no concern for human rights. Even the Supreme Court, hardly a bastion of liberality these days, has now repeatedly slapped them down.

I pray we may yet see the restoration of the rule of the law. In the meantime, stay informed, stay vigilant, stay feisty, and refuse to shut up until law prevails once more.

You may read the whole article here.

I also got an e-mail from Senator Patrick Leahy. He writes, in part:
A majority of the Court has ruled that provisions in the 2006 Military Commissions Act designed to strip away all habeas rights for detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center are unconstitutional. The Court has ruled that the Constitutional right to habeas corpus extends to territories, including Guantanamo Bay, where the United States exercises de facto control. The Court further held that the administration’s detention procedures were constitutionally inadequate, and that those detainees who have been determined to be "unlawful enemy combatants" are entitled to seek habeas relief in Federal court.

The Court’s 5-4 decision sustains the long-held and bipartisan beliefs that I and others have always maintained: Congress made a grave error when, for the first time in its history, it voted to strip habeas corpus rights, instead leaving in place hopelessly flawed procedures to determine whether detainees can be held indefinitely with no meaningful court review merely by the Executive’s decree.
Senator Obama's comments (via SusanG at Daily Kos):
Today's Supreme Court decision ensures that we can protect our nation and bring terrorists to justice, while also protecting our core values. The Court's decision is a rejection of the Bush Administration's attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo - yet another failed policy supported by John McCain. This is an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting a false choice between fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus. Our courts have employed habeas corpus with rigor and fairness for more than two centuries, and we must continue to do so as we defend the freedom that violent extremists seek to destroy. We cannot afford to lose any more valuable time in the fight against terrorism to a dangerously flawed legal approach. I voted against the Military Commissions Act because its sloppiness would inevitably lead to the Court, once again, rejecting the Administration's extreme legal position. The fact is, this Administration's position is not tough on terrorism, and it undermines the very values that we are fighting to defend. Bringing these detainees to justice is too important for us to rely on a flawed system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9-11 attacks, and compromised our core values.
Dday over at Digy's Hullabaloo has this to say (and I say "hear, hear!"):
It's really not enough to mount a campaign to end the practice of torture in a future Administration, although that is of course important. There needs to be continued investigations into how this started and who was responsible, and those responsible absolutely must be brought to justice. John Ashcroft, John Yoo, William Haynes, David Addington and Doug Feith all will be sitting before Congressional committees in the next few weeks. Whether it's through the appointment of a special counsel in an Obama Administration, or tracking down anyone involved with authorizing torture when they go abroad and can be charged under international war crimes statutes, justice must out. A truth and reconciliation commission is the best method, but whatever the case, those who betrayed American values and shamed themselves through their actions cannot be allowed to drift free, only to crop up in some successive Republican White House.
I will let the Bill of Rights have the closing comment tonight:

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

--the BB


Jane R said...

Woot! Indeed.

I'm wavin' the flag tonight.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Somewhere or other, I suggested a truth and reconciliation commission. The numbers of those who appear to have committed crimes is large, indeed.

Paul said...

A truth and reconciliation commission would be wonderful. I wonder if we are civilized enough to have one?

We should, perhaps, take advantage of Desmond Tutu's experience and wisdom here while he walks among us.