Gitmo Trials Decision

I’ve been reading through reports on this decision and I’m trying to figure it all out.

The court declared 5-3 that the trials for 10 foreign terror suspects violate U.S. military law and the Geneva conventions.
The ruling raises major questions about the legal status of the approximately 450 men still being held at the U.S. military prison in Cuba and exactly how, when and where the administration might pursue the charges against them.

Ok, that seems clear enough: the SCOTUS leftwits think that al-Qaeda deserves Geneva Convention protections. Color me shocked. But this bit:

“Trial by military commission raises separation-of-powers concerns of the highest order,” Kennedy wrote in his opinion. “Concentration of power (in the executive branch) puts personal liberty in peril of arbitrary action by officials, an incursion the Constitution’s three-part system is designed to avoid.”

Confuses me a little, as we’re not dealing with US citizens here, and frankly I don’t give a flying fudge about the ‘personel liberty’ of people who have taken up arms agaiinst our troops; if I have to choose between protecting America and protecting the personel liberty of some guy with an AK in Basra, well, “you’ll get used to the food, Hachmed” is all I can say.

8 Responses to “Gitmo Trials Decision”

  1. Ken Summers says:

    It’s even stupider than that. The Constitution itself gives the Executive Branch sole war-prosecuting power.
    Check out KG, who links to a couple of others about it. I haven’t had a chance to digest it all, but I am not impressed with the court on this so far.

  2. Mike Rentner says:

    If we passed an amendment to the Constitution that the Supreme Court didn’t like, there is no doubt in my mind they would declare the amendment itself unconstitutional. There is no limit to what they do. It’s about time someone starts ignoring them. Or impeaching them.

  3. Mike Rentner says:

    I’m starting law school in two months. It’s kind of strange that in order to get into law school you have to take the LSAT, a test designed to prove an ability to use very complex logic, and yet the study of law has nothing to do with the rule of law or the use of logic.
    The law can’t be more opposite from engineering. As an engineer, if I don’t design something taking into account all the laws of physics and all the facts, then the result will not work and I will get fired.
    But as a lawyer, it doesn’t matter what facts are. Precedents, laws, nothing matters. You can do whatever you want in the field of law. The only thing that matters is that you convince someone you’re right.
    This means that all we need to do whatever we want are people who don’t know logic or can’t recognize it. All we need to do to destroy the rule of law is to lie and manipulate.
    I think being a lawyer will be very interesting. I have no pretensions that I can change the world, but I hope that more engineers as lawyers can help put back logic into the profession.

  4. Nightfly says:

    It’s the old lawyers’ adage, Mike:
    When you’ve got the facts, pound on the facts.
    When you’ve got the law, pound on the law.
    When you’ve got nothing, pound on the table.

  5. Mr. Bingley says:

    What do I do about the pounds on my waist, ‘Fly?

  6. KG says:

    The more I look at this case, the more I think the Court gave the other two branches plenty of outs.
    The point about commissions isn’t too bad. It’s a procedural thing, really. Basically, the Court said, Congress has the power to create courts (Art III) and they can’t delegate that power to the president in a declaration of war (or whatever it’s being called these days). I think.
    There was also something about the president not making an official declaration on one of the points.
    The application of Geneva is rather strange. As a matter of policy, it’s not bad. As a matter of law, it’s a very loose reading of the Conventions. And I always thought that the Court was suppose to deal with law, not policy.
    I still haven’t read the whole thing and don’t really intend to.

  7. Dave J says:

    “The Constitution itself gives the Executive Branch sole war-prosecuting power.”
    Uh, no. It gives Congress the power to declare war, and of course to appropriate funds and thus to condition how those funds are spent. I have to say, I really do find the administration’s interpretation of the President’s authority as Commander-in-Chief to be excessive, because by their logic it really does border on being unlimited by anything. As much as I can’t stand Justice Kennedy, I have to agree with him on at least that point.
    “If we passed an amendment to the Constitution that the Supreme Court didn’t like, there is no doubt in my mind they would declare the amendment itself unconstitutional.”
    There is EVERY doubt about that in my mind. The US Supreme Court is NOT that lawless. It is not the Florida Supreme Court, who actually HAD just struck down a provision of the state constitution for violating a state statute (yeah, I know, huh?) in Armstrong v. Harris right before the 2000 election mess. They WOULD have been impeached if that hadn’t intervened.
    “It’s kind of strange that in order to get into law school you have to take the LSAT, a test designed to prove an ability to use very complex logic, and yet the study of law has nothing to do with the rule of law or the use of logic.”
    The STUDY of law might not, but the PRACTICE of law most certainly does.
    “But as a lawyer, it doesn’t matter what facts are.”
    I look forward to facing you on the opposite side of a courtroom if you actually think that. Be sure to let your clients know your opinion that facts don’t matter.
    “Precedents, laws, nothing matters. You can do whatever you want in the field of law. The only thing that matters is that you convince someone you’re right.”
    One would hope that the easiest way to do that is to actually BE right. By my experience so far, it generally is.
    On this whole subject, I’m going to echo KG’s said. The reaction to this opinion is excessive when it’s really much ado about nothing. While I doubt I’ll read the whole thing, it sounds as though Congress could address it all by statute: the problem the Court often has is with the executive branch acting entirely on its own. At that point, arguments about Geneva become academic: whether it’s binding in this situation directly, or as customary internaztional law, or for whatever reason, wouldn’t matter, because a statute that’s both later in time and more specific is going to trump it to whatever extent it might apply.

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