Supreme Court Rules in Favor of the Detainees in Massive Blow to Bush Administration

In a massive blow to the Bush Administration, the Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in favor of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In the opinion below, Justice Kennedy delivers the opinion of a lifetime: holding faithfully to the Constitution in a time of prolonged crisis.

Kennedy writes: “We hold that Art. I, §9, cl. 2, of the Constitution has full
effect at Guantanamo Bay. If the privilege of habeas
corpus is to be denied to the detainees now before us,
Congress must act in accordance with the requirements of
the Suspension Clause.” Amen, Brother, amen.

He further adds that ““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.”

While Kennedy’s opinion was an impressive treatment of the role and history of the Great Writ, Scalia’s opinion read like a snaring rant in comparison. Some highlights:

– “America is at war with radical Islamists. … Our Armed Forces are now in the field against the enemy, in Afghanistan and Iraq. . . . The game of bait-and-switch that today’s opinion plays upon the Nation’s Commander in Chief will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed . . . The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today.”

It was a disappointing opinion with the same fear-mongering and sensational language that we see on late night cable programs. Roberts’ dissent was more moderate but still reflected a shocking passive and reduced role of the courts.

As much as a relief as this decision is, it is important to remember how close we can to the loss of this fundamental right. What citizens need to understand is that it is meaningless how many rights are contained in a Constitution, if the government can deny you access to the courts to vindicate those rights. Kennedy’s opinion is an attempt to educate citizens on the centrality of the Great Writ. One can only hope that a few people in Congress will read this opinion and leave the Constitution alone. When Bush refers to the need for more legislation, the only obvious piece of legislation would be a formal vote to suspend habeas — a step that even these members should be incapable of doing.
For a copy of the opinion, click here.

71 thoughts on “Supreme Court Rules in Favor of the Detainees in Massive Blow to Bush Administration”

  1. “Crooks & Liars” has an absolutely priceless exchange between British journalist, Adam Boulton, and our fearless leader over the recent Supreme Court decision on Guantanamo and habeas corpus. Here’s a highlight:

    BOULTON: But the Supreme Court have just said that — you know, ruled against what you’ve been doing down there.

    THE PRESIDENT: But the district court didn’t. And the appellate court didn’t.

    BOULTON: The Supreme Court is supreme, isn’t it?

    Sergeant Shultz, er I mean George Bush, also accused Boulton of “slander[ing]” America because Boulton asked about those little unpleasantries at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Watch to see how far we’ve fallen from since “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

    Bush is certainly no JFK reincarnated, but Larry, Moe & Curley are surely back.

    Scroll down about 1/3 of the page, and look for “President Bush accuses UK journalist of “slander[ing] America” for mentioning Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib abuses.”

  2. JR:

    Plebian! Thanks for raising the aggregate IQ of both states with your move. All in jest, of course!

  3. If wearing seersucker is a prerequisite for living here in Virginia, I’m glad I’m moving to Silver Spring next week!

  4. First of all I must say, JT, you look absolutely brilliant in blue and brown earth tones always and fashionably seasonal and stylish in khaki – not to worry.

    You looked really fresh on KO last week. I gather summertime has a healthy effect on you…! 🙂

  5. rcampbell,

    You’re welcome. I was dismayed to hear commentators running around saying that the courts are not supposed to “second guess” the president and/or congress. Like you,I read the constitution as having the courts rule on what is or is not constituional. I thought we had a three partite system to prevent just such a tyranny. Scalia’s threat is just irresponsible. If he really wants to get to the matter of people being killed, this ruling gives some hope that we will be less likely to be attacked. Having a working judicial system in this country takes away one of the terrorist’s greatest recruiting tools–the incredible extra legal mistreatment of detainees.


  6. Jill, thank you for the information.

    The right’s shrill reaction to this ruling is quite interesting considering the myth they’ve spread like manure for years about their being the guardians of the Constutition and wanting strict interpretations only. This is strict enforcement of protecting the Constitution from manipulation by one or more of the other branches. That is precisely what the Founders intended.

    Justice Scalia’s purely partisan political “dissent” abandons all pretense of thoughtful judicial restraint in favor of brazenly exposes himself as an irrational petulant child.

  7. far enough:

    McCain is at his usual tomfoolery. There are 270 prisoners at Guantanamo. Even if every one of them filed it would hardly be a flood.* If I were McCain I would worry about being “across the v.” on a 1983 action along with the rest of the Bushies who apparently can’t get it that all people are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

    Habeas Petitions only challenge the legality of imprisonment. It’s only been around since King John signed Magna Carta in 1215 c.e.. But to our frantic, history-challenged neo-cons, everything is new every day. Kennedy does a nice job of summarizing its history in the opinion if you are so inclined. The things McCain speaks about (food, reading material, etc) are usually civil rights cases filed by inmates. That is NOT habeas litigation, but hey it makes for a good lie to fool the public and isn’t that what these Bush-evics are really all about.

    I commend you on not accepting these people like McCain on face value.

    * For some perspective there are 45,000 cases against Merck alone in the Vioxx litigation. No one calls that a flood. The estimate of those affected by the drug negaitively is about 100,000.

  8. McCain had this to say today:

    “We are now going to have the courts flooded with so-called … habeas corpus suits against the government, whether it be about the diet, whether it be about the reading material.

    Is this true, or is habeas used only to decide the issue of whether the government has the right to hold the prisoner? If it’s the latter, how does a prisoner challenge treatment when he/she is lawfully imprisoned.

  9. For once, this modern Supreme Court struck a blow against the Republican and conservative idealogues and the Bush Administration and for freedom and liberty. As might have been expected, the Bush Administration under the lead of its mindless attack dog, Atty Gen Mukasey, plans to ignore the Court ruling and to go forward with their military tribunals and indeterminate confinements without redress. That is another not so subtle reminder to me about how mad I am at Sen. Schumer for selling out at the Judiciary confirmation hearing for Mukasey. That candidate could not have been more objectionable, but Schumer caved in, claiming Bush could pick someone worse. Well, who could be worse than an Atty Gen who shows no respect for the law and does as he damn pleases any time. Mukasey has done wrong with regard to the investigation about political AAG firings, illegal wiretapping, the Bush plea for retroactive immunity for telecoms, the issue of torture, and now, the long-awaited Gitmo decision. Mukasey is a pompous, arrogant ass who deserves to be impeached and indicted, and he has earned such punishment in a few short months. What a shame for America…and he is supposed to be our chief law enforcement officer. Instead, he is a prime offender!
    Schumer should be eating crow because he was wrong, dead wrong, and his re-election campaign in a few years will prove to him how wrong he was. We New Yorkers do not take kindly to traitors to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and individual freedoms of the press, religion, speech and assembly, not to mention freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and illegal wiretaps. Schumer and Mukasey will both soon be out of a government job, and I can’t wait to gloat over their downfall, but in the meantime, all Americans must voice their discontent and fight to recapture the high moral ground and freedoms achieved over more than 200 years and squandered by the Bush cabal in the past 7+ short years.

  10. “The late Harry Reasoner of ABC News used to warn about the government’s manipulation of language and hence our liberties. Funny almost none of the new corporate shills masquerading as journalists talk about that anymore. As usual, Harry was prescient. War on terror, indeed.”

    Yossarian: Those bastards are trying to kill us.

    Dobbs: Who’s trying to kill you?

    Yossarian: Everyone of them.

    Dobbs: Everyone of who?

    Yossarian: Everyone of who you think.

    Dobbs: I haven’t any idea.

    Yossarian: Ah…then how do you know they aren’t?

    McWatt: What’s that called?

    Aarfy: Sophistry.

    “We’ might as well have a war on poverty. Oh yeah we did that already. How’d that turn out?”

    The war on poverty was canceled for lack of funding.

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