Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another Supreme Court Showdown Looms

Another showdown between the White House and the Supreme Court looms after a federal appeals court today upheld a key provision in President Bush's anti-terrorism law stating that Guant√°namo Bay detainees may not challenge their military detention in civilian courts.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that civilian courts no longer have the authority to consider whether the military is illegally holding foreigners.

Barring detainees from the U.S. court system is a key provision in the Military Commissions Act, which Bush pushed through Congress last year to set up a system to prosecute terrorism suspects.
The ruling is all but certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, which in ruling last year on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, struck down the Bush administration's original plan for trying detainees before military commissions and rebuked the president for attempting to supress the habeas corpus provision of the U.S. Constitution and violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Geneva Conventions.

The high court ruled 5-3 against the administration in Hamdan with Chief Justice Roberts recusing himself because he had been involved in the case at a lower ocurt level.

Given that the White House merely paid lip service to the ruling and then compelled a largely compliant Congress to again give it carte blanche in the form of a new but nearly identical law, I would anticipate that the Supremes will again slap the president even with Roberts participating.

The stakes could not be higher for an administration that remains drunk with power despite enormous setbacks in Iraq and the mid-term elections, as well as a world standing at low ebb.
I am not suggesting that terror suspects be treated with kid gloves. But having claimed the right to determine who are enemy combatants and detain them indefinitely without charges, the White House cannot retreat from that position without appearing to be weak, and appearances in the Age of Bush often are more important than realities, just as politics often trumps policy, or in this case tramples on the very foundations of American jurisprudence.
More here. Click here for a .pdf file on the ruling


Deb said...


You show great faith in a Supreme Court that is compromised. The court does not reflect the American people, it is more representative of those with power and money. Of which those people detained at Gitmo have neither.

Shaun Mullen said...


You make a good point. The court has indeed been compromised, but it stood on principle in the Hamdan ruling and I believe it will again.