Monday, June 28, 2004

Supremes uphold habeas corpus for terror suspects

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states that “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it”, as Lincoln did during the Civil War. Now, a writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody. Doesn’t automatically do anything other than afford an individual an opportunity to demonstrate that his incarceration was in error.

Today’s Supreme Court decision regarding persons held as enemy combatants or suspected of terrorist activities may seem to some a coddling of terrorists. I disagree. The Associated Press reports that “The court refused to endorse a central claim of the White House since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001: That the government has authority to seize and detain suspected terrorists or their protectors and indefinitely deny access to courts or lawyers while interrogating them.”

What would happen if a U.S. Citizen were so held under the Government’s mistaken belief that he or she was not a citizen? How does one get a hearing if Habeas Corpus does not exists? Do you want to trust the judgment of the Justice Department or the military? If you are so sanguine as to believe that Justice is not prone to error, please think about this incident – if that’s the proper term for such idiocy.

For as the AP again reports “A teacher's aide who forgot to put away her marshmallows and hot chocolate at Yellowstone National Park last year was taken from her cruise ship cabin in handcuffs and hauled before a judge, accused of failing to pay the year-old fine” – which she had in fact paid!

If one can be hauled off in chains over an allegedly unpaid $50 fine, what might one have to endure totally independently of whether or not one is a citizen, whether or not one is guilty, and all while one is being held incommunicado for an indefinite period? I shudder at giving any person or any governmental body that power.

And so would, I believe, the Framers.

P.S. For a not-quite-so-instant analysis of these decisions, see this editorial by the Wall Street Journal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Following the "Holy Ones' Ruling," therefore, are these individuals to be brought to the United States proper should they choose to have U.S. taxpayers spend U.S. dollars (after U.S. dollars have already been spent to catch, transport and now feed and house them), participate in our court system, and have determinations made regarding their charges? Please refer to the quote, as follows, along with the pictures as published at:

"Alleged Taliban and al-Qaida detainees sit in a holding area at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during in-processing to the temporary detention facility in this Jan. 11, 2002 file photo. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, June 28, 2004, has ruled that detainees in Guantanamo Bay may file suit in American courts to challenge their captivity."

In the meantime perhaps some of their al-Qaida brothers threaten and behead military and civilians alike in Iraq and...elsewhere.

It seems to me we have a problem requiring a new definition of who qualifies for justice under our constitution. I see this as a very real challenge especially given the fact we are at war with the alleged aforementioned. Is this a constitutional issue or does it requiring addressing elsewhere?

9:17 PM  

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