The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Imperial Court Overturns the Constitution: the Catastropic Cost of Boumediene

John Yoo is sensational today:

Last week's Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush has been painted as a stinging rebuke of the administration's antiterrorism policies. From the celebrations on most U.S. editorial pages, one might think that the court had stopped a dictator from trampling civil liberties. Boumediene did anything but. The 5-4 ruling is judicial imperialism of the highest order.

Boumediene should finally put to rest the popular myth that right-wing conservatives dominate the Supreme Court. Academics used to complain about the Rehnquist Court's "activism" for striking down minor federal laws on issues such as whether states are immune from damage lawsuits, or if Congress could ban handguns in school. Justice Anthony Kennedy -- joined by the liberal bloc of Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer -- saves his claims of judicial supremacy for the truly momentous: striking down a wartime statute, agreed upon by the president and large majorities of Congress, while hostilities are ongoing, no less.

First out the window went precedent. Under the writ of habeas corpus, Americans (and aliens on our territory) can challenge the legality of their detentions before a federal judge. Until Boumediene, the Supreme Court had never allowed an alien who was captured fighting against the U.S. to use our courts to challenge his detention.

In World War II, no civilian court reviewed the thousands of German prisoners housed in the U.S. Federal judges never heard cases from the Confederate prisoners of war held during the Civil War. In a trilogy of cases decided at the end of World War II, the Supreme Court agreed that the writ did not benefit enemy aliens held outside the U.S. In the months after the 9/11 attacks, we in the Justice Department relied on the Supreme Court's word when we evaluated Guantanamo Bay as a place to hold al Qaeda terrorists.

The Boumediene five also ignored the Constitution's structure, which grants all war decisions to the president and Congress. In 2004 and 2006, the Court tried to extend its reach to al Qaeda terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay. It was overruled twice by Congress, which has the power to define the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Congress established its own procedures for the appeal of detentions.

Incredibly, these five Justices have now defied the considered judgment of the president and Congress for a third time, all to grant captured al Qaeda terrorists the exact same rights as American citizens to a day in civilian court.

Judicial modesty, respect for the executive and legislative branches, and pure common sense weren't concerns here either. The Court refused to wait and see how Congress's 2006 procedures for the review of enemy combatant cases work. Congress gave Guantanamo Bay prisoners more rights than any prisoners of war, in any war, ever. The justices violated the classic rule of self-restraint by deciding an issue not yet before them.

Judicial micromanagement will now intrude into the conduct of war. Federal courts will jury-rig a process whose every rule second-guesses our soldiers and intelligence agents in the field. A judge's view on how much "proof" is needed to find that a "suspect" is a terrorist will become the standard applied on the battlefield. Soldiers will have to gather "evidence," which will have to be safeguarded until a court hearing, take statements from "witnesses," and probably provide some kind of Miranda-style warning upon capture. No doubt lawyers will swarm to provide representation for new prisoners.

So our fighting men and women now must add C.S.I. duties to that of capturing or killing the enemy. Nor will this be the end of it. Under Boumediene's claim of judicial supremacy, it is only a hop, skip and a jump from judges second-guessing whether someone is an enemy to second-guessing whether a soldier should have aimed and fired at him. ...

There is more; read the whole thing. Stunning, still--and it has been 5 days since the ruling.

Meanwhile David Kahane creates a ficticious one-act play, starring Justice Kennedy--speaking his mind about what he really thinks. A small slice (these being "Kennedy's words on stage for the one act play...):
“Our long march through the institutions is over. What began as a gleam in my daddy Che Kahane’s eye back in the Sixties is today blinding reality. We own the media, the universities, both houses of Congress, the Supreme Court — and very soon, the presidency itself. With the Boumediene decision last week, our audacious vision of a government of the lawyers, by the lawyers, and for the lawyers has finally come to fruition. Once we eliminate the Second Amendment and the Electoral College, our victory will be complete. Nothing can stop us now.

“The military is putty in our hands, every soldier a cop, and every cop hamstrung by a Miranda monkey on his back. The protections of our living, breathing, emanating, penumbrating Constitution have been extended to every man, woman, child, and transgendered metrosexual albino little person on the planet. And they said we couldn’t do it — that the American people would never stand for such an erosion of national sovereignty. Ha! ...."
Worth the click.
DiscerningTexan, 6/17/2008 12:05:00 PM |