Democrats & Liberals Archives

High Court Still Supreme

After seeing how President Bush packed the High Court with far-right judges, I was losing hope for decent decisions. But the Supreme Court surprised me with its latest decision saying that Gitmo detainees are entitled to their day in court. This is a day to celebrate.

Justice Kennedy, who seems to have taken over the job Justice O'Conor use to have, that of a swing justice, wrote the majority opinion. It's beautiful:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.

Terrific. All prisoners in the U.S., he says - and Guantanomo is effectively U.S. territory - are entitled to the constitutional privilege of habeas corpus.

And here is Justice Kennedy's answer to the rantings of Presidaent Bush:

The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.

I love his expression that "liberty and security can be reconciled." Let's forget all these unconstitutional changes Bush has executed because of his paranoia about al Qaeda. We follow the constitution even in "extraordinary times."

Contrast this with what Scalia said:

Scalia said the nation is "at war with radical Islamists" and that the court's decision "will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed."

The same paranoia. No faith in our constitution. This is the guy who raves constantly about making decisions following a strict construction of the constitution. That is, when the constitution applies. In times of war the constitution may be disregarded. This is an originalist?

The High Court is still Supreme. This is the third time the Court slapped Bush down on constitutional rights of detainees. Let's hope it is the last.

Posted by Paul Siegel at June 12, 2008 4:55 PM
Comment #255334

It is a sad day when the supreme court overrules the entire history of our country in granting constitutional rights for foreign enemies. I shall lower my flag to half-mast to honor the memory of when this country and its supreme court had the courage to follow our founders lead.

Posted by: Jim M at June 12, 2008 5:21 PM
Comment #255340

Impeach Scalia NOW. He sounds like he is there to implement the policies of the executive branch, when it is in Rpblcn hands, rather than rule on the constitution. He has to go. He is a disgrace to every justice that went before him.

Posted by: ohrealy at June 12, 2008 5:59 PM
Comment #255343

It’s a happy day when the country who’s pledge ends “with liberty and JUSTICE FOR ALL” finally comes to it’s senses.

Posted by: Rocky at June 12, 2008 6:12 PM
Comment #255347

Back in the Cold War, we held the line against those who imprisoned people without charges, without evidence, without trial.

At this moment, we have an American citizen that has been imprisoned for SIX YEARS - no charges or trial.

Those who think Gitmo is a good thing have forgotten that we faced a FAR greater threat in WWII, but even then we had the courage to repatriate the POWs - and if “it’s not a declared war” is your excuse, then explain what we did with the POWs in Vietnam.

NEVER IN AMERICAN HISTORY has the United States government had AS POLICY to imprison ANYONE - even non-citizens - for years without charges and without trial.

Our government didn’t see the need to do so when the White House was burned down by an invading army…so HOW can it possibly be justified now?

Kudos to the Justices who stood up against the fear-mongering neo-cons!

And for our government, from The Judgment of Peers:

“You stood for the tortured, the wrongful imprisoned,
For freedoms of worship, of speech.
But now you sacrifice such liberties,
‘Pon a brass altar of security!”

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at June 12, 2008 6:30 PM
Comment #255364

I don’t believe anyone is suprised by the way the SC justices voted.

Glen C.: You mentioned what we did not do to POW’s in past wars but, you failed to mention what we did to our own citizens-Japanese Americans.

The only freedom that Republicans really believe in is the freedon to garb as big a piece of the pie that they can and then hold on to it. The Democrats are begining to follow in their footsteps. The only real difference between them is the Robin Hood approach to helping the poor instead of full employment with meaningful wages.

Posted by: jlw at June 12, 2008 7:58 PM
Comment #255374

It is a sad day when the supreme court overrules the entire history of our country in granting constitutional rights for foreign enemies.

Habeas Corpus Jim M Jeez. Its for everyone citizen or not. What kind of person would give up such a fundamental right?

“I shall lower my flag to half-mast to honor the memory of when this country and its supreme court had the courage to follow our founders lead.”

You should consider lowering your head in shame Jim M. for swallowing the conservative kool aid on this attempt to legislate from the bench by the strict constitutionalist on the court. Allowing personal petty politics to interfere with your duties as a justice on the Supreme Court should be grounds for impeachment.

Here is what the founding fathers say:

“By a declaration of rights, I mean one which
shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom
of the press, freedom of commerce against
monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no
suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing
armies. These are fetters against doing evil
which no honest government should decline.”
Thomas Jefferson
Source:Liberty Quotes

Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections
and rebellions? Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension.
They have been either real treasons, wherein the
parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension.
Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: j2t2 at June 12, 2008 9:37 PM
Comment #255403

Jim M,
Why you condemn the Supreme Court Ruling, are you aware that it goes to debunk OBLs’ Beliefs that America is not a Nation of Law?

For why the court never said that the suspension of the Habeas Corpus was wrong, even Americans need to realize that the Absolute Power of the Law is the Absolute Power of Man. Because does not Every Man have the Unalienable Right to stand in front of the Truth of Man and those that accuse him of wrong?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at June 13, 2008 7:24 AM
Comment #255424

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a scathing dissent, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, arguing that the court struck down the “most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country” without bothering to say what due process rights the detainees possess or how the statute fails to vindicate those rights, and before the statute was even allowed to be tested. The majority’s opinion was less about the detainees and all about the “control of federal policy regarding enemy combatants.”

Posted by: Jim M at June 13, 2008 12:31 PM
Comment #255429

Glenn said: “Those who think Gitmo is a good thing have forgotten that we faced a FAR greater threat in WWII, but even then we had the courage to repatriate the POWs”

Only after stripping them of every possession and asset including liberty and citizen rights. It was unconstitutional and wrong and will always remain so as a black mark upon America’s history, like slavery.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2008 12:58 PM
Comment #255433

j2t2 asked: “Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions.”

First, such a suspension is by definition short lived. Insurrections and rebellions are short lived events. The longest in American history was the Civil War, a scant 5 years, though bloody. Upon the cessation of the insurrection or rebellion, habeas corpus is reinstated and applicable to all those detained during the rebellion or insurrection.

It is one of those checks and balances concepts whose first purpose is to prevent the demise of the United States government. The logic being, that if the US Government is overthrown, then the Constitution is no longer applicable, and habeas corpus could be lost forever.

It was an eminently reasonable and rational stipulation in the US Constitution.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2008 1:05 PM
Comment #255434

Jim M, group think does not necessarily make correct think! The dissenting Justice’s view attempts to define our enemies as something other than human beings due certain unalienable rights only to be deprived through DUE PROCESS, i.e. habeas corpus.

Group Think does not make right think, though as we have seen in this case, Group Think can result in Right think!

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2008 1:13 PM
Comment #255435

j2t2, for all his flaws and hypocrisies, Jefferson remains a mental giant with concepts and words. Excellent and apropos’ quote.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2008 1:15 PM
Comment #255495

Jim M
Since when does one have to be foreign to be declared an “enemy” of the ruling power structure? I guess one can only understand it if it happens to one personally. Talking to some citizens from Argentina from the bad old days couldn’t be considered to be personal.
Now that the Multinationals own everything everyone can be considered to be foreign. Maybe even us. How are they going to scam us into hating each other whilst they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Posted by: Stephen Hines at June 13, 2008 9:04 PM
Comment #255522

Some would like to think that we are “granting constitutional rights for foreign enemies,” when in fact we are simply recognizing that some rule of law has to apply to Gitmo. Either US law or Cuban law has to apply there, and I seriously doubt this adminstration wants to get the Cuban authorities involved. It then means US law has to apply, and with US law comes the US Constitution as the supreme law — no ifs, ands, and buts. This ruling is little more than recognizing the current administration and congress cannot invent a brand new legal system out of thin air.

Posted by: Steve at June 14, 2008 8:28 AM
Comment #255544

David, thanks for the compliment but those words (“Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions.”)are also the words of Jefferson, the source line is missing.
Jefferson was a big beleiver in Habeas Corpus but didnt appear to be in favor of suspending it for any reason.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 14, 2008 12:16 PM
Comment #256068

j2t2, right, hence my comment, “for all his flaws and hypocrisies…”

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 19, 2008 7:39 PM
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