Bush Gives U.S. District Court the Finger
He did this by notifying the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington DC that they no longer have the jurisdiction to consider the many habeus corpus petitions filed on behalf of terrorists at Guantanamo.
In a notice dated Wednesday, the Justice Department listed 196 pending habeas cases, some of which cover groups of detainees. The new Military Commissions Act (MCA), it said, provides that “no court, justice, or judge” can consider those petitions or other actions related to treatment or imprisonment filed by anyone designated as an enemy combatant, now or in the future.
Beyond those already imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere, the law applies to all non-U.S. citizens, including permanent U.S. residents.
Habeas corpus, a Latin term meaning “you have the body,” is one of the oldest principles of English and American law. It requires the government to show a legal basis for holding a prisoner. A series of unresolved federal court cases brought against the administration over the last several years by lawyers representing the detainees had left the question in limbo.
Needless to say, the law professors and the people over at the anti-American, pro-terrorist Center For Constitutional Rights are not happy, which I think it’s a good sign.
The administration’s persistence on the issue “demonstrates how difficult it is for the courts to enforce [the clause] in the face of a resolute executive branch that is bound and determined to resist it,” said Joseph Margulies, a Northwestern University law professor involved in the detainee cases.
On Tuesday, the appeals court granted a petition by lawyers for the detainees to argue against the new law. Vincent Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents many of the detainees, said yesterday that he expected the administration to file a motion for dismissal of all the cases before the defense challenge is heard.
“We and other habeas counsel are going to vigorously oppose dismissal of these cases,” Warren said. “We are going to challenge that law as violating the Constitution on several grounds.” Whichever side loses in the upcoming court battles, he said, will then appeal to the Supreme Court.
If at first you don’t succeed, sue and sue again.