Thursday, June 29, 2006

Breakin' the Law (?)

So, some of y'all may have heard. The Supreme Court of the United States made the papers yesterday.
The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.

Here's the Case Law (Warning, PDF + 185 pages!!) Thanks, Slate! You can read the whole thing, but the good stuff starts on page 9, then quickly disentigrates into very specific legality concerning this one very specific case.

[Hamdan's] objection is that the military commission the President has convened lacks such authority, for two principal reasons: First, neither congressional Act nor the common law of war supports trial by this commission for the crime of conspiracy—an offense that, Hamdan says, is not aviolation of the law of war. Second, Hamdan contends, the procedures that the President has adopted to try him violate the most basic tenets of military and internationallaw, including the principle that a defendant must bepermitted to see and hear the evidence against him.

Anyway, it was a 5-3 decision (Chief Roberts recused) which means it is an effective 5-4. Like so many things in America today, it is split right down the middle with one side winning the push. And like so many things in America today, the winners are taking their victory laps and the losers are losing their minds. A certain Congressman's blog suggests that this decision will destroy troop morale.

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RightOnPeachtree said...

How old is Stevens? I think he's 85, isn't he? He's holding on for dear life now (pun intended) and liberal interest groups are deathly (again, pun intended) afraid that he won't make it much longer. If he dies in the next two years, the next appointee could/should tip the courts back towards the conservative side for a long time. And if it's a social conservative, many on the left will go bat-guano crazy.

The Supremes are huge, though. To me, that's why I desperately want to keep a conservative President (which Bush isn't really) and a Republican-led Senate - even if Repubs lost the House. And that's one of the reasons I'm am so friggin' mad at Republicans for being such losers. It's almost like they are trying to lose power with some of their bone-headed moves.

Maybe I'm naive, but I didn't have that much of a problem with this decision, although I can see both sides. Even though we are at war, I think we should probably follow some existing and universally accepted legal procedures - even if Al Qaeda detainees don't deserve them under the Geneva Conventions. This is a different kind of war that could last a LONG time, and I don't really feel good about the prez having nearly limitless wartime powers in such an unorthodox "war".

Of course, I'm no lawyer, so what do I know? Not much.

Patrick Armstrong said...

RE Stephens, after he's done with a day's work, he is removed to Super Secret Liberal Takeover Headquarters and kept on a dietary regimen of whole organic foods, soy products and detox agents.

RightOnPeachtree said...

Not just because of Stevens, but I think there should be mandatory retirement ages for judges and politicians. I guess that could be called "age-ist", but it is just crazy to have people like Stevens, Byrd, Helms, Thurmond, et al, wielding so much power. Of course, I don't like the fact that Supreme Courters are given lifetime appointments. Maybe I should like that since Roberts and Alito are so young (relatively speaking), but I still don't think it's right.

But yeah, I imagine most non-atheists on the left are constantly praying for Stevens' continued good health (or at least his ability to breathe). :o)