Democrats & Liberals Archives

Bush Defeat In The Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 3 that the tribunals for Guantanamo detainees are illegal. However, if you read the court’s decision, more than the Constitution was violated. The Court also stated that the “commissions” violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) - illegal under military tribunals; the Geneva Conventions; the Hague Conventions; and exceeds any intent of legislation of Congress. In other words they are illegal no matter how you look at them - criminally, militarily, internationally, or Constitutionally.

The decision is being read as a stinging rebuke of Bush for over-reaching the powers of President. It is largely being seen as a big loss for the Administration, and on the face of it that would seem to be true. However, in listening to various Congressional members respond to the decision, a more frightening specter raises its head. Most of the Representatives and Senators I heard (both Democrats and Republicans) focused on Bush leaving Congress out of the process. The message was essentially: "Work with us and we'll give you what you want."

The majority decision, and statements by the Court, make it clear that there are numerous problems with the "trials" and access to justice of the current policy. Certainly one of those was the by-passing of Congress, and over-interpretation of the power the President holds under a variety of legislation. However, it would seem to me that even if Congress writes legislation that makes the "commissions" legal legislatively, it would not remove the other areas of illegality (UCMJ, Geneva and Hague).

The seeming willingness of Congress to rubber stamp the "commissions" is not a good sign, and actually poses a significant threat. It shows a willingness on the part of Congress to support a policy that violates numerous international agreements to which the U.S. has been a long standing signatory. The Geneva and Hague Conventions are at heart protections for human rights in times of war. The willingness to write legislation counter to them adds to the international perception of the United States as a rogue nation.

A further issue with the Congressional response, is that legislation that would approve the current Bush detainee policy would institutionalize such treatment far into the future. Given that the President can detain anyone at Guantanamo who he deems a threat (regardless of nationality), then certainly U.S. citizens face a massive violation of Constitutional protections if so detained. Once something is included in the Constitution, it is much more difficult to remove. While a simple majority vote can take legislation to the President, two-thirds are required to remove it. It is rare indeed that two-thirds of the House and Senate agree on anything.

While the decision of the Court does send a significant message to the President, it does not necessarily provide a check on the unilateral assumption of presidential powers. It certainly does not if this expansion of authority becomes legislatively enshrined.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at June 30, 2006 4:47 PM
Comment #163708

My prediction is that, if this should come to pass and Congress allows the means to turn America into a Police State, Bush will be forced to withdraw troops from Iraq to protect Washington from it’s citizens.

Posted by: DOC at June 30, 2006 5:12 PM
Comment #163729

This will all change if Bush gets to appoint another sitting SC justice.

A fantastick movie was made about slavery movement called Amistad, if I recall correctly. In the movie, a great deal is made of the young queen of Spain whose whimsical power was both derived and protected for very many decades by a court system in Spain which did the Queen’s bidding.

Adams who argued the case before Supreme Court in the U.S. made this point very clear to them. Were they to be an independent branch of government, or, were they to be step and fetchits of the Executive Branch of government.

Make no mistake, Bush is working diligently to create a Spanish Supreme Court in the U.S. to replace the independent one defined and highly regarded by the founders of this great nation. Every president before Bush did the same, but, failed. The Bush adminstration has everything to gain for his party and philosophy should some ill befall Justice Kennedy prior to Bush’s departure form office.

It is the stuff Tom Clancey movies are made of, only this is real life.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 30, 2006 6:10 PM
Comment #163743

Its past time we sent a clear message to this Administration that we are a country governed by law and our elected officials must obey them like everyone else. The Bush administration using fear, ridicule and lies have distorted the very essence of truth and responsibility of leadership.

Bush and his minions are running the country like cheap used car salesmen scamming the public when it suits their purposes of power and greed. They alone have killed over 2500 of our kids, maimed over 13,000 and sent over $380 billion of out tax dollars down a rat hole over a phony war Bush lied to get us involved in. Every good American must vote out every Republican who supports the enemies of our freedoms now in the Whitehouse.

Posted by: Gary Hankin at June 30, 2006 6:55 PM
Comment #163747

Yes lets let all the prisoners in Gitmo out and then we can all sing kumbia. You libs are right we need to play this war like a game. Tag you it, and when he comes back in an airplane and kills another 3000 thousand then what. Tag you it.

Posted by: Thomas at June 30, 2006 7:05 PM
Comment #163750


Absolutely a great article. You raise many questions which none of us can really answer. Time will tell. I will however predict that the Democrats will be painted as “weak” because our collective voice is muffled by the majority. History indicates that sooner or later the pendulum will swing the other way. Only time will tell how soon ar how far.

David Remer,

Your comments regarding a comparison between OUR current political situation and that of Spain are “spot on”. I assume you read my previous comments regarging the threats on the Justices by members of the right. I truly believe we may be headed down the road to ruin.

Of course most of America won’t know it happened until it happens.


Posted by: KansasDem at June 30, 2006 7:19 PM
Comment #163755

“Yes lets let all the prisoners in Gitmo out and then we can all sing kumbia.”

No one said we should do that. Where are you getting this from?

Posted by: Zeek at June 30, 2006 7:30 PM
Comment #163756

“Yes lets let all the prisoners in Gitmo out and then we can all sing kumbia”


No one suggested that. We simply believe in recognizing laws regarding human rights. Torture is not the answer. Violating the Geneva Convention’s is not the answer.

If the tables were turned on this report what would you say?
“five American soldiers were involved in the killings of four Iraqi relatives, including a woman who had been raped”
Yahoo News!

You’d be PO’ed! I’d be PO’ed! How do you suppose the Arab world is responding to this?

Just look outside your “I love Bush” persona and suck in some facts! Things in Iraq are bad!


Posted by: KansasDem at June 30, 2006 7:36 PM
Comment #163763

Release the Gitmo Freedom Fighters. Sprinkle them around Washington D.C., Massachusetts and California. They’d be right at home in those friendly environs. Maybe Souters or Kennedy can clean up after them.

Posted by: nikkolai at June 30, 2006 8:07 PM
Comment #163767

Kansas Dem said: “I truly believe we may be headed down the road to ruin.”

It is one of my deepest concerns as well.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 30, 2006 8:16 PM
Comment #163773

I believe that history will show that President Bush was the greatest president in modern history. Did you know that the last democrat president was getting blow jobs by staff? There’s character and integrity! George Bush… BUST OUT GUNS.

Posted by: mike brown at June 30, 2006 8:54 PM
Comment #163776

I truly do not understand how wanting our nation to follow the rule of law means letting potentially dangerous people run free. However, what we do know about Guantanamo is that not everyone who has been held there is a threat to the US or anyone else.

The claims that “we” just want to open our arms to “terrorists” is pure blind rhetoric - the same that is being promoted by sound bite politicians (i.e. “cut and run”).

If the most powerful nation in the world cannot operate under the rule of law, then how do we expect other nations to do so? In continuing to act outside the law (our own and international agreements we have signed and supported), we lose all credibility and it undermines our ability to make a real contribution. Somalia is a case in point where the possibility UN troops are seen proxies for US interests in oil (in other words a covert invasion as with Iraq). This means the continued starvation and death of hundreds of thousands.

Anyone can “play dirty,” or “cheat.” However, those who do lose all respect and honor. It makes no difference whether this is the bully on the playground, the team on the field, or a nation in a war.

If we are willing as a nation to give up the very values and laws to which we pledge our allegiance and which we believe distinguishes us from the rest of the world, then we have dealt ourselves a more fatal blow than any terrorist group can.

Posted by: Rowan Wolf at June 30, 2006 9:04 PM
Comment #163780

Rowan, here, here! Our greatest enemy is ourselves. That has always been true of modern societies from the days of the Babylonian and Persian empires to the present. To view human history any other way is to deny responsibility for one’s actions and consequences of those actions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 30, 2006 9:14 PM
Comment #163782

“If we are willing as a nation to give up the very values and laws to which we pledge our allegiance and which we believe distinguishes us from the rest of the world, then we have dealt ourselves a more fatal blow than any terrorist group can.”

Very wise words Rowan Wolf!


Posted by: KansasDem at June 30, 2006 9:36 PM
Comment #163788

What??? This supreme court has a mind of its own and will not stay bought. Perhaps the FEAR MONGERS are wrong and the American people will be served by the constitution. The current crop of congressional idiots seem to have forgotten the reason for their election I.E. to represent the folks who elected them Not todays editions of Taminy Hall. This country was built by forward looking representive government not by fearmongering clowns who make Grants adminestration look honest.

Posted by: dave at June 30, 2006 10:17 PM
Comment #163836

Interesting and chilling. I doubt that many convictions would happen in any kind of court we are used to. Statements made by defendants or witnesses obtained under torture or coercion are not admissable. Even this congress will have trouble changing that. How many of the prisoners have actual AlQuida links? How many were just fighting with the Talaban against forign invaders?Wouldnot that make them prisoners of war. War prisoners are realeased after hostilities end. What about an endless war?Bear in mind that the US trained and armed much of the Talaban and even some Al Quida including Bin Laden. Reagan called the “freedom fighters.” One week the US thinks they are great ,the next week they are enemies. Not very likely that any of them had anything to do with 9/11. Tactically it would make no sense to let them in on it and there was no reason to. More questions than answers to be sure. What we can be sure of is that that our treatment of prisoners at Gitmo and elsewhere has diminished our respct around the world.

Posted by: Bill S at July 1, 2006 2:05 AM
Comment #163838

It is clear to me that conservatives are convinced that if the occupants of gitmo got a fair trial, they would all walk. They sound like cynical America Haters. Take them to trial and find them guilty. If you can’t find them guilty of something, they shouldn’t be there.

Posted by: Loren at July 1, 2006 2:16 AM
Comment #163842

In WW2 German prisoners of war were treated humanly .There were instances of them being held incomunicado etc.and scattered brutality. But mostly humanely. Germany treated American prisoners more brutally but did not usually kill them like they did Russian prisoners. Even the Japanese prisoners were treated humanely dispite the well documented mistreatment American pows recieved at their hands. When the war was over this fact made it easier to gain the peace. Both of those countries are our allies. Have we sunk so low? What we do now is important for peace in the future. Where did our moral compass go? Was it a victum of the cold war? We need to find it again or this century will be even bloodier than the last.

Posted by: BillS at July 1, 2006 2:48 AM
Comment #163847

Loren, sounds like you believe our nation should one ruled by law, not authoritarian persons in high places. Hmm… Hope you didn’t vote for Bush in either election. Otherwise, ooops!!!

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 1, 2006 3:48 AM
Comment #163874

Wolf Get serious Bush will keep these murderers at Guantanamo Untill Bush decides to let the Bumbs go.This is no Victory for your side.The Supremes have no juice in this matter and you are a little childish for thinking they do.

Posted by: justwondering at July 1, 2006 11:12 AM
Comment #163884

Justwondering: You, sir, are a spoof. I’m calling you out. You can’t possibly believe the nonsense you’re spouting. Get real.
OTOH, if you really do believe that SCOTUS has no juice, you should take up arms against BUSH, because he has failed to “protect and defend the Constitution” which gives SCOTUS its power.
Your choice. You’re either serious (and a traitor), or spoofing (and a coward).

Posted by: Govt Skeptic at July 1, 2006 12:06 PM
Comment #163905


No, I’m a science teacher, and the jury is still out on GW’s support of critical thinking.

Posted by: Loren at July 1, 2006 1:11 PM
Comment #163909

Govt.Skeptic Come back to the real world George Bush is the Commander and cheif The Supreme Court Can Not I repeat Can Not wage a war or keep the President from fighting a war the way he sees fit.This Propoganda will not work in this Country.

Posted by: justwondering at July 1, 2006 1:21 PM
Comment #163918
The Supreme Court Can Not I repeat Can Not wage a war or keep the President from fighting a war the way he sees fit.

Go back and read the Constitution. The Judical Branch has the responsibility and right to ensure that the Executive Branch acts within the bounds of law, the Constitution, and our treaties.

The factual (and grammatical) restatement of your statement is “The President cannot - I repeat cannot - violate the laws of the land to execute any of his duties, including waging war.”

Posted by: LawnBoy at July 1, 2006 1:50 PM
Comment #163919

Lawnboy Ithink Sadam needs a new Lawyer maybe you should apply for the Job.And why did’nt the Supremes order bush to release these bumbs if they have the juice to do so?Lets see how fast Bush acts on the Supreme Court Ruling.

Posted by: justwondering at July 1, 2006 1:58 PM
Comment #163924


SCOTUS didn’t order the prisoners to be released because the issue at hand was not the overall detention but the invalid process the administration had put in place to “try” the prisoners.

There’s no question of “juice”.

I agree, it will be interesting to see how the administration responds.

Posted by: LawnBoy at July 1, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #163928

I think we all should take a fresh look at the Constitution. If I recall correctly, it tells us that if any government tries to take our liberties, citizens have the right and the DUTY to take up arms and fight.

Every soldier in every branch of our military takes a vow to defend the Constitution.

Every cop takes a vow to uphold the Constitution.

Every President takes a vow to follow the guidelines defined in the Constitution.

Where was our military when the “Patriot” Act was signed?
Why does Homeland “Security” exist?
Why is Bush getting away with: War crimes? Crimes against the peoples of the world? Converting the U.S. into a fascist corporatocracy?

Two more questions: Where is the outrage? Why are we not fighting back?

I know the answer to that last one! Two words: American Idol.

Posted by: ChristianLeft at July 1, 2006 2:23 PM
Comment #163929

And kidnapped white girls

Posted by: Loren at July 1, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #164020

“Wolf Get serious Bush will keep these murderers at Guantanamo Untill Bush decides to let the Bumbs go”

If they are all guilty, why have hundreds been let go? Why are you afraid of giving them a fair trial? Why are cons so supportive of subverting due process?

Posted by: Observer at July 1, 2006 8:53 PM
Comment #164489

I was in junior high when Martin Luther King and the civil rights workers marched on Washington in 1963. I remember watching it on TV and realizing the power of the people when the changes came. Having grown-up in a white-middle class home I was so thrilled with the changes that took place. We must not forget the power of the Supreme Court and the responsibility and hope that goes with that responsibility. Thank god for the men and woman who have taken a stand against the terror of King George Bushie the II. And where are all the young people like we had out in the 60’s and 70’s to demonstrate and protest against the terror like we did against Tricky Dicky?

Posted by: Roy T. at July 3, 2006 1:16 PM
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