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Monday, April 02, 2007

Slowly starving habeas corpus

The Supreme Court handed down rulings on at least two cases today. In one, the Court held that the EPA would have to rethink its stance on carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. That one has gotten a good deal of attention, but the other ruling has not, perhaps because it isn't quite final.

WASHINGTON (WHBQ FOX13 myfoxmemphis.com) -- The Supreme Court on Monday declined for now to review whether Guantanamo Bay detainees may go to federal court to challenge their indefinite confinement.

From what I can tell, the Court backed up the Appeals Court ruling that the detainees had no Habeas Corpus rights because they could appeal their military commission indictments before the Appeals Court. The Supremes essentially said that they would have to examine the handling of the appeals to the Appeals Court before deciding whether this process was a suitable substitute for Habeas Corpus.

That seems to me to be an unfortunate cop-out. In effect, they've said it's okay to do away with Habeas Corpus as long as there is some suitable substitute, without defining what kind of a substitute would be acceptable.

Yes, this will probably come back to the Supremes (unless all ten of those charged -- there are only ten out of the hundreds of detainees at Gitmo who have been charged -- decide to give up on the process and strike a plea deal like David Hicks did.) But it seems to me it weakens the Habeas right no matter what happens from here on out. Further, four of the Justices (guess which ones) saw no reason for it to come back at all. They were all for doing away with Habeas Corpus. (Answer: Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Thomas)

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