Friday, June 30, 2006


Supreme Court Upholds Constitutional Law of the Land

Finally Supreme Court Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, and Kennedy have ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that the Administrative Branch must follow current law or wait until Congress authorizes it to do otherwise.

Let no one forget that at the root of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld was the right to a trial and for the person being held to be informed of what he/she is being accused of so that he/she can be represented by an attorney. That the case involved detainees as a result of 9/11 must not be overlooked. I truly do not believe anyone wants proven criminals to be walking the streets, but in order for anyone to be "justly" locked up in a democracy there needs to be a legitimate rule of the land and the 5 justices have made this clear to the Administrative Branch.

I wonder what Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito were thinking when they dissented and why Chief Justice Roberts did not vote.

I too am glad about the decision. As to the dissenters, I have no doubt about Scalia and Company's ideas when they dissented. Scalia basically argued that the court didn't have jurisdiction over the case. What was interesting was that Thomas read his dissenting opinion *from the bench* which he's never done before from what I've read.
Roberts recused himself because he'd ruled on it when he was on the appeals court but I still found it interesting he did.

Here's what I found on the web on their dissents:

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Scalia's dissenting opinion
Joined by Thomas and Alito, Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion that focuses primarily on issues of jurisdiction and relies heavily on the Detainees Treatment Act (DTA), which took effect on December 30, 2005:

"[N]o court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for awrit of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." ยง1005(e)(1), 119 Stat. 2742.
Scalia affirms that this denies the Supreme Court jurisdiction over the case, even though the case was pending at the time, and believes that the original military tribunal was not shown to be inadequate. He calls the majority's reading of the DTA a "mess" and states that the Court's conclusion to hear the case is "patently erroneous." He also criticizes the majority's use of Senate floor debate records to bolster their interpretation, which he claims was selective. Finally, he anticipated that expanding the jurisdictions able to hear writs of habeas corpus from Guantanamo Bay would create excessive load on the court system.

Second, Scalia discusses his belief that a petitioner such as Hamdan being held outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States lacks the right to the writ of habeas corpus.

Finally, Justice Scalia chastises the Court for taking equity jurisdiction of the case and draws an analogy with Schlesinger v. Councilman 420 U.S. 738 (1975) in which the Supreme Court declined passing judgement on the decision of a military tribunal before the works of that tribunal were finished; the Military Tribunals in Cuba have similarly not yet ended their work regarding Hamdan.

Thomas's dissenting opinion
Justice Clarence Thomas read his dissent from the bench when the decision was announced. Though he had questioned attorneys in oral arguments in his 15 years on the court, this was the first time he read an opinion from the bench.
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