For what is, I believe, the third or fourth time, the SCOTUS has decided against the Bush Administration's so-called "legal" policies (most of which aren't legal except in the minds of authoritarians like Bush and Cheney) on detainees.
Foreign terrorism suspects held at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba have constitutional rights to challenge their detention there in United States courts, the Supreme Court ruled, 5 to 4, on Thursday in a historic decision on the balance between personal liberties and national security.
“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court.
Nothing, of course, will change since the Bush Administration has simply ignored the last 2 or 3 SCOTUS decisions that it was acting illegally in Gitmo and there have been no repercussions. Bush has placed himself above the Supreme Court, apparently feeling that the monarchic powers he assumes for his presidency absolve him from the need for compliance with the highest legal authority in the land.
Not very friendly considering he wouldn't even be president if the SCOTUS hadn't thrown their entire legal philosophy overboard to give him the election he lost in 2000.
Fat Tony, of course, a dissenter, aped the Bush Party Line almost verbatim.
Reflecting how the case divided the court not only on legal but, perhaps, emotional lines, Justice Scalia said the United States was “at war with radical Islamists,” and that the ruling “will almost certainly cause more Americans to get killed.”
The Fear Party never quits! Meanwhile, the other conservative dissenters had their own ways of dealing with another loss. Chief Justice John Roberts chose comedy.
Chief Justice Roberts said the majority had struck down “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.”
I should point out that in order to accept that sentence you have to be:
- Brain dead
- A committed ideologue
- Someone who rejects all the previous SCOTUS rejections
IOW, that sentence only makes sense if Roberts is refusing to accept what the SCOTUS decided before. In yet other words, the Chief Justice just rejected the power of his own court to decide law.
But it's all moot anyway since the Bush administration won't be accepting or obeying this Supreme Court decision any more than they did the first three. That's the beauty of living in a monarchy.
UPDATE: (6/12/08) Bush doesn't care for the decision but ungraciously and unconvincingly claims he'll "abide by it".
We'll abide by the court's decision," Bush said during a news conference in Rome. "That doesn't mean I have to agree with it." The court's decision was sure to be popular in Europe, where many leaders have called for the closing of of Guantanamo.
In its third rebuke of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners, the court ruled 5-4 that the government is violating the rights of prisoners being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba. The court's liberal justices were in the majority.
Yeah. Right. He said the same thing about the other decisions before he went right ahead and pretended they didn't exist. I ain't holding my breath.
UPDATE 2: (6/10/08) Glenn Greenwald explains better than I could. He says a key provision of the MCA was just struck down and we've got habeus back. Well, maybe but....
In a major rebuke to the Bush administration's theories of presidential power -- and in an equally stinging rebuke to the bipartisan political class which has supported the Bush detention policies -- the U.S. Supreme Court today, in a 5-4 decision (.pdf), declared Section 7 of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 unconstitutional. The Court struck down that section of the MCA because it purported to abolish the writ of habeas corpus -- the means by which a detainee challenges his detention in a court -- despite the fact that Constitution permits suspension of that writ only "in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion."
As a result, Guantanamo detainees accused of being "enemy combatants" have the right to challenge the validity of their detention in a full-fledged U.S. federal court proceeding. The ruling today is the first time in U.S. history that the Court has ruled that detainees held by the U.S. Government in a place where the U.S. does not exercise formal sovereignty (Cuba technically is sovereign over Guantanamo) are nonetheless entitled to the Constitutional guarantee of habeas corpus whenever they are held in a place where the U.S. exercises effective control.
In upholding the right of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees, the Court found that the "Combatant Status Review Tribunals" process ("CSRT") offered to Guantanamo detainees -- established by the John-McCain-sponsored Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 -- does not constitute a constitutionally adequate substitute for habeas corpus. To the contrary, the Court found that such procedures -- which have long been criticized as sham hearings due to the fact that defendants cannot have a lawyer present, government evidence is presumptively valid, and defendants are prevented from challenging (and sometimes even knowing about) much of the evidence against them -- "fall well short of the procedures and adversarial mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review." Those grave deficiencies in the CSRT process mean that "there is considerable risk of error" in the tribunals' conclusions.
That's all well and good but it only applies to appeals. What about the kangaroo-court nature of the original military trials? They're just as phony, just as rigged as the ones the Court struck down for being phony and rigged.