Saturday, June 14, 2008

One vote away from constitutional disaster

By Libby

We didn't talk much about the SCOTUS decision here but I think Brian had the appropriate reaction to McCain's statement and I posted about Obama's response at the DetNews, so I won't repeat that here. Instead I'll flag yesterday's editorial at NYT, "Justice 5, Brutality 4." The closing graphs are especially good.
It was disturbing that four justices dissented from this eminently reasonable decision. The lead dissent, by Chief Justice John Roberts, dismisses habeas as "most fundamentally a procedural right." Chief Justice Roberts thinks the detainees receive such "generous" protections at their hearings that the majority should not have worried about whether they had habeas rights.

There is an enormous gulf between the substance and tone of the majority opinion, with its rich appreciation of the liberties that the founders wrote into the Constitution, and the what-is-all-the-fuss-about dissent. It is sobering to think that habeas hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States - a reminder that the composition of the court could depend on the outcome of this year's presidential election. The ruling is a major victory for civil liberties - but a timely reminder of how fragile they are. [via]
And speaking of timely reminders, JB at Balkinization in an excellent post, outlines the failure of movement conservatism's constitutional revolution and rightly notes that they could still win if McCain somehow gets elected.

As far as I'm concerned, that's the single most important reason to get Obama elected. SCOTUS appointment(s) will surely come up in the next four years and we're only one vote away from institutionalizing brutality.

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Blogger Kevin McKague said...

Libby, we may never know who among those detained at Gitmo are actually guilty of a crime, and that is the ultimate irony of the administration's policy. Surely there are some guilty parties there, and if we could only try them in a fair court, we'd know. The need for protecting national security is a red herring. The real reason the administration is dragging their feet, even when it comes to their kangaroo courts, is because they don't want cases to be thrown out due to the fact that much of their evidence was derived from torturing prisoners.

Surely there are innocent people locked up in Gitmo as well, of course, after being locked up in a cage for no reason, and without trial for seven years, I'd be ready to blow up some Americans too.

I heard an interview with one of the lawyers covering some of the prisoners at Gitmo (my apologies, I can't find a link right now) on NPR last week. She explained that as her prisoner was speaking at a hearing at Gitmo, he began to explain that the doctors there were forcing him to take certain psychiatric drugs. When he began to name the drugs, the prisoner's microphone was shut off, so the lawyer, listening in another room, couldn't hear. This alone isn't unusal, the prisoners comments are often made inaudible to their own lawyers. What is unusual however, is the reason the lawyer was given for the drug name being censored.

It was explained that the medical records of the prisoner was merely being protected, as per federal law.

Habeas Corpus might be dead, but HIPAA is law at Gitmo!

12:30:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I'm sure most of the prisoners are not guilty and the guilty ones will go free because the evidence is tainted by torture. You're right of course, that this is the main reason they don't want the prisoners allowed in open court, so the evidence of their brutality isn't make public.

Nice to you btw. Hope you're well.

8:16:00 AM  

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