Thursday, June 12, 2008

Huzzahs for the Rule of Law

Glenn Greenwald has a thorough write-up of today's Supreme Court ruling that restored the ancient right of habeus corpus, albeit by a narrow 5-4 majority. Here's the takeaway, courtesy Glennzilla:

As a result [of the ruling], Guantanamo detainees accused of being "enemy combatants" have the right to challenge the validity of their detention in a full-fledged U.S. federal court proceeding. ... In upholding the right of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees, the Court found that the "Combatant Status Review Tribunals" process ("CSRT") offered to Guantanamo detainees -- mandated by the John-McCain-sponsored Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 -- does not constitute a constitutionally adequate substitute for habeas corpus. To the contrary, the Court found that such procedures -- which have long been criticized as sham hearings due to the fact that defendants cannot have a lawyer present, government evidence is presumptively valid, and defendants are prevented from challenging (and sometimes even knowing about) much of the evidence against them -- "fall well short of the procedures and adversarial mechanisms that would eliminate the need for habeas corpus review." Those grave deficiencies in the CSRT process mean that "there is considerable risk of error" in the tribunals' conclusions.
Note the phrase "considerable risk of error," which gets at the very deep and yet very basic principle involved: courts are finders of fact as well as finders of law. The idea is to detain people after you know they're guilty, not on the whimsy of an executive.

It should be noted that the four dissenting justices -- Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas -- are the kind that John McSame expressly promises to appoint if he's elected president.

This is a great victory for the founding principles of this country. It remains to be seen whether the Bush-Cheney junta will deign to acknowledge it, let alone follow it.

No comments: