Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Supreme Court's Decision Thursday to uphold the writ of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees (Boumediene v. Bush) might prove to be a pivotal issue in the general election. John McCain in a touching show of allegiance to They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named has criticized the decision as being "one of the worst decisions in the history." Hmmm... I wonder what would happen if I Googled "bad Supreme Court decisions"....

Wow, thank you, John McCain for teaching me so much! I guess that means that the decision to grant basic legal rights to "enemy combatants" is on the same level of badness as say... Dred Scott, the case that declared all blacks nonpersons. The one where Chief Justice Taney said Blacks could not be citizens even if free because they were "beings of an inferior order and altogether unfit to associate with the white race." So John McCain, I guess granting detainees the right to appeal in civil court makes 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick tame by comparison, huh? The court upheld a Georgia statute criminalizing sodomy and the prosecution of a gay man. In his remarks Chief Justice Burger quoted William Blackstone's Commentaries on the laws of England where he "described 'the infamous crime against nature' as an offense of 'deeper malignity' than rape, a heinous act 'the very mention of which is a disgrace to human nature,' and 'a crime not fit to be named.' (ibid) Those were the good old days. We could never have predicted the true badness the Supreme Court could achieve.

It's shaping up to be an interesting debate with McCain, who helped draft the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which prevented courts from considering the habeas corpus petitions from Guantanamo detainees on one side, and Obama who voted against the act in the Senate, on the other. Obama praised the decision as "an important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law, and rejecting our credibility as a nation fighting terrorism and respecting habeas corpus."

An article in the NYT opinion page sums it up for me: "It is sobering to think that habeas hangs by a single vote in the Supreme Court of the United States." "The ruling is a major victory for civil liberties -- but a timely reminder of how fragile they are."

1 comment:

BlickyKitty said...

My friend ran into a snag posting her comment so here you go:

How is the United States supposed to export our values if we don't practice them? The irony of our mistreating these men in Cuba of all places is painful.
What can the average cat do--besides vote? Come to a prayer vigil against torture on June 28, 8:00 to 9:00 p.m., at St. Joseph's Church in Pawtucket, RI.