A View From The Handbasket

Thursday, June 29, 2006
Liberty dances on the head of a pin
Posted by neros_fiddle at 12:41 PM
The big news today, of course, is the 5-3 Supreme Court decision rejecting Bush's Guantanamo tribunals. In essence, the court ruled that Bush, no matter what commander-in-chief superpowers he ascribes to himself, is still subject to the rule of law (specifically the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions).

There are two things about this ruling that are worth pointing out. First, this may set a precedent that emboldens further examination of certain other administration policies. In rejecting the White House's claimed omnipotence deriving from the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the court calls into question the myriad other violations of law the administration has justified using the same arguments that failed in this case.

The bad news? The 5-3 decision was practically a 5-4 decision, since new Chief Justice Roberts recused himself from this case because he'd already ruled in favor of Bush on a lower court before being appointed. (Cynics will suggest that the two events might have been connected.) Who else came down in favor of unlimited power for the executive branch? No surprise: Scalia, Alito and Thomas.

One more appointment and the court will be ready to bless the imperial presidency. Of all the ways the administration has made America a lesser light in the world, this might be the most damaging in the long run.

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