SocraticGadfly: Yes, Virginia, there is a Supreme Court

June 12, 2008

Yes, Virginia, there is a Supreme Court

And, a Supreme Court that still believes in civil liberties, including habeas corpus.

By a 5-4 majority, written by Justice Kennedy, the court not only reaffirmed the privilege of habeas, but David Souter, in a concurrence, went further:
Souter said the dissenters did not sufficiently appreciate “the length of the disputed imprisonments, some of the prisoners represented here today having been locked up for six years.”

The overall opinion went further, too. SCOTUS also told the Bush Administration to cut the legal hairsplitting on the status of Guantanamo.

The ruling said, in essence, that even though Guantanamo is technically on land rented from Cuba, it walks, talks and quacks like a United States piece of real estate.

Now, what effects will this have beyond the detainees? Well, with Democrats in the majority in Congress, there’s no way a new Military Commissions Act will be passed. (I think.) But, it appears not affect the status of current military commissions, beyond giving the habeas protections to defendants inside those courts. Second, the ruling was only specific to Guantanamo Bay detainees. But, it seems logical that SCOTUS, if another appeal reaches it, would extend those protections.

Beyond that, this obviously removed “terrorism trials” from the2008 election landscape. (And this ruling comes early enough that Schmuck Talk Express™ can’t exploit it this fall.)

And, any ruling that makes Scalia this spluttering mad HAS to be good.

Kevin Drum well asks what the end game is for Gitmo detainees, since, in many cases, their countries of origin don’t want them back. One waggish poster there suggests either Crawford, Texas, or Jackson Hole, Wyo., for Dick Cheney.

Drum is probably right that Afghanistan is the end of the line for most the detainees, the ones where we know they’re small fry, and now, the pressure to open the gates is going to mount.

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