Monday, April 03, 2006

A Cowardly SCOTUS Takes the Easy Way Out, Refuses to Uphold Due Process of Law!

The Supreme Court has declined to rule on whether the Bush administration has the right to hold American citizens indefinitely without charges or trial. The high court's lack of action in defense of Due Process moves the U.S. closer to dictatorship and leaves the Constitutional basis of our republic in doubt.

Specifically, the high court refused to rule on an appeal by Jose Padilla, designated an "enemy combatant" by the Bush administration and held in a military brig in South Carolina for more than three years. The court's failure to act, is, in fact, a victory by default for Bush who claims all manner of inherent and implied war powers that, in fact, do not exist. Bush's war powers are spelled out in the Constitution.

Rather than clarifying, the high court has but muddied the waters. Rather than making a definitive statement in support of an embattled Constitution, the high court has but encouraged a would-be dictator. Bush's bogus and fallacious rationalizations are left standing to set dangerous precedents. If the high court's passive consent is allowed to stand, then all Bush need do to silence a critic is to term that critic an "enemy combatant". An "enemy combatant" is whatever Bush says is an "enemy combatant". This is the absurd logic that flies in the face of the very rule of law. This is the threat to both Democracy and justice that this court has let stand.

According to the BBC:
Jose Padilla was moved to civilian custody in January after being held for more than three years without charge. Government lawyers argued that the Supreme Court appeal was no longer relevant in the light of that move.
Justices David H Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer voted in favor of granting the appeal, one vote short of four votes needed to grant an appeal.

Earlier, according to the Washington Post, the federal judge overseeing the Padilla case imposed tight restrictions on the handling of classified material including:
  • Results of surveillance conducted by the FBI in a separate investigation authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees eavesdropping and other monitoring of suspected foreign agents in the United States.

  • A request to limit defense questioning of a witness about the chain of custody of a specific piece of evidence. No details were given, but the defense has raised questions about a "mujahideen data form" Padilla allegedly filled out to attend an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan.

  • Information provided to the U.S. by an unspecified foreign government. The material may eventually be declassified, prosecutors said.
  • Written and recorded statements Padilla made while in military custody. Some information about Padilla's interrogations has already been made public and the Justice Department is seeking declassification of most of the remaining evidence.
  • —Washington Post, Padilla Judge Restricts Classified Info

    Additional resources:A judiciary, due process update:

    ACS v. Federalists

    Abner Mikva

    With Samuel Alito's confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice, some pundits predict that we may be witnessing the final act in a great drama that has riveted the nation for decades. Fifty years ago the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education placed the courts at the forefront of the struggle for social justice, and there they remained, largely unchallenged, for three decades. But then, during the Reagan Administration, a conservative legal movement symbolized by (but not limited to) the Federalist Society rapidly rose to prominence. Its agenda was clear: Government--all government, but especially the courts--must be hobbled and the struggle for social justice initiated by Brown halted. Now, with Alito joining fellow conservative John Roberts on the Court, some on the right seem to believe that their great project is nearing completion.

    They are, however, dead wrong. Justices Roberts and Alito will take an already conservative court even further to the right, but the struggle for social justice will go on. And I am pleased to report that a new force--full of energy and optimism and new ideas--has entered the fray on the side of those who are committed to our founding values of liberty, equality and justice. It is the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), which employs many of the undeniably successful techniques perfected by the Federalist Society, but in pursuit of liberal ends. ...


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