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July 02, 2006

Calling Bush on the Carpet

The Hamden Decision was probably the big news of the week.  Eugene Robinson of the WAPO had a great article that laid out the implications of the decision:

It seemed almost too much to hope for, but the Supreme Court finally called George W. Bush onto the carpet yesterday and asked him the obvious question: What part of "rule of law" do you not understand?

The justices rejected the kangaroo-court tribunals the administration had planned for the detainees who have been held for years without charges at Guantanamo Bay -- proceedings engineered to have the appearance of due process but not the substance. The ruling is a complicated, nuanced set of concurrences and dissents that will take some time to fully digest, but the fundamental message is clear: Despite his outrageous claims of virtually unlimited presidential power, the self-proclaimed Decider doesn't get to decide everything.

"Congress has not issued the Executive a 'blank check,' " Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his opinion. Has anyone broken the news to poor Dick Cheney?


Perhaps the greatest impact of the 185-page ruling is that it rejects Bush's claim that the necessity of waging the "global war on terror" gives him extraordinary powers that lie beyond the jurisdiction of the courts. The ruling reminds him of "the court's duty, in both peace and war, to preserve the constitutional safeguards of civil liberty."

The NYT, in an article written by Linda Greenhouse and others, chimed in with a couple good observations as well:

The decision was such a sweeping and categorical defeat for the Bush administration that it left human rights lawyers who have pressed this and other cases on behalf of Guantanamo detainees almost speechless with surprise and delight, using words like “fantastic,” “amazing,” “remarkable.” Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a public interest law firm in New York that represents hundreds of detainees, said, “It doesn’t get any better.”


In the courtroom on Thursday morning, the chief justice sat silently in his center chair as Justice Stevens, sitting to his immediate right as the senior associate justice, read from the majority opinion. It made for a striking tableau on the final day of the first term of the Roberts court: the young chief justice, observing his work of just a year earlier taken apart point by point by the tenacious 86-year-old Justice Stevens, winner of a Bronze Star for his service as a Navy officer during World War II.

However, I think it's worth noting that this decision also makes it clear how close we are to a shift on the Supreme Court.  Had Chief Justice Roberts been able to vote on this case, the vote would have undoubtedly 5-4.  This comment from reader Mack at Firedoglake says it all:

One more Supreme appointment could tip the balance.
I see no cause for jubilation.
What I see is the the ante upped for the next SCOTUS appointment.
The Constitution literally hangs on that thread.
2008 cannot come soon enough for me.

As a reminder, we here in Washington State will have a lot to say about whether the Democrats are in a position to block Bush's next Supreme Court nomination.  Support Maria.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2006 at 09:34 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink


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