Friday, June 13, 2008

Honoring Habeas

What follows are excerpts from the majority opinion in the case of Boumediene v. Bush, which ruled that those detained at Guantanemo are entitled to Habeas corpus rights (I couldn't find this online anywhere, but in the print edition of today's New York Times)...

The law must accord the Executive substantial authority to apprehend and detain those who pose a real danger to our security.

Officials charged with daily operational responsibility for our security may consider a judicial discourse on the history of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 and like matters to be far removed from the nation’s present, urgent concerns. Established legal doctrine, however, must be consulted for its teaching. Remote in time it may be; irrelevant to the present it is not.

Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our armed forces to act and to interdict. There are further considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers. It is from these principles that the judicial authority to consider petitions for habeas corpus relief derives.

Our opinion does not undermine the Executive’s powers as commander in chief. On the contrary, the exercise of those powers is vindicated, not eroded, when confirmed by the judicial branch.

Within the Constitution’s separation-of-powers structure, few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to imprison a person.

Some of these petitioners have been in custody for six years with no definitive judicial determination as to the legality of their detention. Their access to the writ is necessary to determine the lawfulness of their status, even if, in the end, they do not obtain the relief they seek…

It bears repeating that our opinion does not address the content of the law that governs petitioners’ detention. That is a matter yet to be determined.

We hold that petitioners may invoke the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus. The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.
Well said (and the ruling was praised by Obama, as you might expect).

Of course, Hangin’ Judge J.R. immediately started yapping about “overreaching” and “judicial activism,” while Mike Huckabee’s "personal hero" said point blank that the ruling “will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed” (only the "dead-enders" are buying that claptrap now, Your Honor).

And as for McCain, this is an occasion for yet another pitiable exercise.

So how does the lawless Bushco regime respond? About the way you would expect.

Update 6/15/08: One vote away...

Update 6/16/08: I must pass this along...

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