Another nail in the coffin of the USA

God help us. This, in essence, means that any enemy combatant has habeas rights in the United States, even though they are not legal residents or citizens. Michelle Malkin has excellent analysis here. An excerpt:

What’s that sound? The thunder of left-wing lawyers and Gitmo detainees jumping up and down for joy at the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning. Brace yourselves. Dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia warns that the ruling “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed” and concludes “The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today. I dissent.”

Chief Justice John Roberts says the rule of law and the American people have lost out–and with this ruling, we “lose a bit more control over the conduct of this Nation’s foreign policy to unelected, politically unaccountable judges.”

In her piece she quotes Justice Scalia:

The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed. The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today. I dissent.

More from Yahoo! News:

High Court ruling may delay war crimes trials

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – 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.

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.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

Kennedy said federal judges could ultimately order some detainees to be released, but that such orders would depend on security concerns and other circumstances.

The White House had no immediate comment on the ruling. White House press secretary Dana Perino, traveling with President Bush in Rome, said the administration was reviewing the opinion.

It was not immediately clear whether this ruling, unlike the first two, would lead to prompt hearings for the detainees, some of whom have been held more than 6 years. Roughly 270 men remain at the island prison, classified as enemy combatants and held on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The ruling could resurrect many detainee lawsuits that federal judges in Washington put on hold pending the outcome of the high court case. The decision sent judges, law clerks and court administrators scrambling to read Kennedy’s 70-page opinion and figure out how to proceed. Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he would call a special meeting of federal judges to address how to handle the cases.

The decision also cast doubt on the future of the military war crimes trials that 19 detainees are facing so far. The Pentagon has said it plans to try as many as 80 men held at Guantanamo.

The lawyer for Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s one-time driver, said he will seek dismissal of the charges against Hamdan based on Thursday’s ruling. A military judge had already delayed the trial’s start to await the high court ruling.

The administration opened the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to hold enemy combatants, people suspected of ties to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

The Guantanamo prison has been harshly criticized at home and abroad for the detentions themselves and the aggressive interrogations that were conducted there.

The court said not only that the detainees have rights under the Constitution, but that the system the administration has put in place to classify them as enemy combatants and review those decisions is inadequate.

The administration had argued first that the detainees have no rights. But it also contended that the classification and review process was a sufficient substitute for the civilian court hearings that the detainees seek.

In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts criticized his colleagues for striking down what he called “the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants.”

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas also dissented.

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.”

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens joined Kennedy to form the majority.

Souter wrote a separate opinion in which he emphasized the length of the detentions.

“A second fact insufficiently appreciated by the dissents is the length of the disputed imprisonments, some of the prisoners represented here today having been locked up for six years,” Souter said. “Hence the hollow ring when the dissenters suggest that the court is somehow precipitating the judiciary into reviewing claims that the military … could handle within some reasonable period of time.”

The court has ruled twice previously that people held at Guantanamo without charges can go into civilian courts to ask that the government justify their continued detention. Each time, the administration and Congress, then controlled by Republicans, changed the law to try to close the courthouse doors to the detainees.

The court specifically struck down a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that denies Guantanamo detainees the right to file petition of habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is a centuries-old legal principle, enshrined in the Constitution, that allows courts to determine whether a prisoner is being held illegally.

The head of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents dozens of prisoners at Guantanamo, welcomed the ruling.

“The Supreme Court has finally brought an end to one of our nation’s most egregious injustices,” said CCR Executive Director Vincent Warren. “By granting the writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court recognizes a rule of law established hundreds of years ago and essential to American jurisprudence since our nation’s founding.”

Five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks appeared in a Guantanamo courtroom last week for a hearing before their war crimes trial, which prosecutors hope will start Sept. 15.

Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said he had no immediate information whether a hearing at Guantanamo for Canadian Omar Khadr, charged with killing a U.S. Special Forces soldier in Afghanistan, would go forward next week as planned.

Bush has said he wants to close the facility once countries can be found to take the prisoners who are there.

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama also support shutting down the prison.

7 thoughts on “Another nail in the coffin of the USA”

  1. Short translation of Kennedy’s opinion: Articles I,II and III of the Constitution are hereby revoked. New language reads “All powers of the United States, legislative, executive and judicial shall reside in an unelected Supreme Court which shall be the sole judge of those powers and any abuses thereto. The President and Congress may for the time being retain their offices and salaries until we find them inconvenient.”

  2. I’m going to comment on the decision later, but respectfully Ken, you’re wrong.

    All the pundits out there on the left (This is a rebuke) and on the right (This is judicial activism) who don’t understand constitutional law and who haven’t read the decision. The opinion is more technical if anything. I’m kind of busy now, but once i’ve digested all 134 pages, I’ll give my two cents.

  3. Why waste so much time and money? These are war criminals…They should be tried in military court.

  4. What did I tell you? This is what the AP says about 6 minutes ago:

    “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.”

    That is not what the Court held. What the Court held was that Congress could not create a law which essentially resulted in a defacto suspension of the privilege to petition a US court for a writ of habeas corpus.

    oy vay!

  5. Respectfully Mike, how am I wrong? The court has been grabbing executive and legislative powers for more than fifty years. In this case a law hammered out to answer previous Court objections has been declared “insufficient”. The court has applied habeas corpus to persons who are not even legal combatants. Who were never in the United States. I am all for limiting government power over citizens and residents of the US but this like Roe and Kelo is simply the Court telling the other branches “never mind what the Constitution says, we’ll tell you what it means.” To preserve civil society, the Court must have the power to review the actions of the political branches. To preserve liberty, the Court must act with some restraint. It has not.

    Essentially the Court has forced the military to raise the black flag. Why bother to capture terrorists when the courts will grant them rights that will insure many are released to return to the battlefield to kill Americans? Just kill them all. Or turn them over to a regime that recognizes no civil or human rights.

    I look forward to your translation of Kennedy’s tortured logic ans convoluted prose.

  6. Ken, read the opinion first.

    I’ll try to get something out this weekend on it.

    But I can tell you:

    1) we don’t have to let anyone go
    2) these are not battlefield tribunals; they are on what is essentially US territory;
    3) this opinion does not signal the doomsday end of the world scenario.
    4) this opinion is not a rebuke towards the Bush Administration and Congress

  7. Mike,
    You’re right. I probably should read the opinion, but there’s a bit of a problem there. I’m not a lawyer and Kennedy’s legalese might be defined as a form of torture, even to attorneys. So I’ll have to do with interpretations from those I trust, including you. Let me respond to your points though.
    1.We will have to let some people go fairly soon. Our judiciary will be as split as the rest of the country as to the depth and breadth of the decision. Lawyers for the detainees and other ambitious lefties are even now figuring out which judges they want for habeas hearings.
    2. You’re right so far. Are you willing to bet American military men and women’s lives that it will remain so?
    3.I agree, it is only one step on that path. But that path is being tread without pause. Wars are lost battle by battle, not all at once. The political branches continue to lose every battle.
    4.No, it’s a power grab. The Court’s majority has made it clear that no law will be tolerated that does not give the detainees the same legal rights that US citizens have.
    When a Cuban refugee can be denied legal rights because he couldn’t make it to the surf line but an illegal fighter or terrorist must be granted those rights then there’s some problem there.

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