Friday, June 13, 2008

Supreme Court Decision in Boumediene et al. v. Bush, President of the United States

I'm not a lawyer, but this 5-4 Supreme Court decision from Justice Kennedy sounds OK to me:
Our opinion does not undermine the Executive’s powers
Commander in Chief. On the contrary, the exercise of
those powers is vindicated, not eroded, when confirmed by
the Judicial Branch. Within the Constitution’s separa-
tion-of-powers structure, few exercises of judicial power
are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to
hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to im-
prison a person. Some of these petitioners have been in
custody for six years with no definitive judicial determina­
tion as to the legality of their detention. Their access to
the writ is a necessity to determine the lawfulness of their
status, even if, in the end, they do not obtain the relief
they seek.

Because our Nation’s past military conflicts have been of
limited duration, it has been possible to leave the outer
boundaries of war powers undefined. If, as some fear,
terrorism continues to pose dangerous threats to us for
years to come, the Court might not have this luxury. This
result is not inevitable, however. The political branches,
consistent with their independent obligations to interpret
and uphold the Constitution, can engage in a genuine
debate about how best to preserve constitutional values
while protecting the Nation from terrorism. Cf. Hamdan,
548 U. S., at 636 (BREYER, J., concurring) (“[J]udicial
insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our
Nation’s ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that
insistence strengthens the Nation’s ability to determine—
through democratic means—how best to do so”).

It bears repeating that our opinion does not address the
content of the law that governs petitioners’ detention.
That is a matter yet to be determined. We hold that peti­
tioners may invoke the fundamental procedural protec­
tions of habeas corpus. The laws and Constitution are
designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary
times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our
system they are reconciled within the framework of the
law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of
first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part
of that law.
Whatever Bush thought he was doing in Guantanamo (which this blog has urged be shut down), the President's scheme obviously has not been working--Osama Bin Laden is still at large, the anthrax attacks have not been solved, the US is still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Americans are still being intrusively probed at airports some seven years after 9/11. Time to try something else...such as the American legal system, which worked well enough for Rudy Giuliani to clean up mob influence in New York City.