Friday, June 13, 2008

Best possible outcome

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling against the Bush-Cheney regime’s illegal military trial and detention system at Guantanamo was the best possible ruling in favour of the rule of law and the US Constitution. But it’s also pointed out—again—how much is at stake in the November election.

The Court’s decision will force the Bush-Cheney regime to obey the Constitution and rule of law. It will allow people detained at Guantanamo to challenge their imprisonment, to see secret evidence and to call witnesses—in other words, all the things that the Constitution guarantees. Predictably, the right wing was scathing in its condemnation, with Scalia being particularly frothing in his dissent. He was, in fact, too silly to respond to.

But let’s take a quick look at the core rights the court upheld: The right to challenge imprisonment is vital, since the “war on terror” is by definition a war that will never end. Some detainees have been held for six years without charge or trial.

Similarly, the right to see secret evidence will force the Bush-Cheney regime to present evidence that meets the legal minimum. The regime used lies and deception to start their Iraq War, so why should we believe they’re telling the truth in their evidence? That’s especially true since many of the detainees were “sold” to the American military by Afghan warlords cashing in on the bounty the US offered. For the same reason, detainees need to be able to call witnesses who could establish their innocence or dispute false allegations.

Does the right wing really have so little faith in America’s justice system that it fears allowing people to have their day in court? And isn’t the legal system of the entire Western world based on the presumption of innocence? Or does the right wing want to change that, too?

The frothing right, like Scalia, is being alarmist in their opposition for its own sake. All five dissenting justices support the bizarre legal notion called the “unitary executive theory” which holds that the US president is a virtual dictator. In fact, that’s why Bush-Cheney appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the court.

Barack Obama praised the ruling, McCain, of course, denounced it. Obama, who once taught Constitutional Law, said awhile ago, "Part of the role of the courts is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout." That’s clearly what the court did in this case.

Which brings us to the November election. The next president will likely appoint one or two justices to the Supreme Court. Obama’s intention to appoint fair-minded jurists who will uphold the Constitution is obvious. McCain, meanwhile, said that the Bush-Cheney appointees are exactly the sort he wants to appoint (and he wonders why everyone says he’s running for a “third Bush term”).

McCain and other right wingers often says they’re opposed to “activist judges”, but they’re lying about that. The truth is, they want activist judges, but ones who are active in favour of right-wing causes including unbridled presidential power. That’s what Bush-Cheney wanted, and that’s what John McCain wants, too.

If one more Bush-Cheney-McCain style judge had been appointed to the Supreme Court, this ruling would have been the other way. We simply cannot risk the Constitution in the hands of someone like John McCain who, just like Bush-Cheney, doesn’t believe in the rule of law.

So this was a great ruling. But it also demonstrates the importance of electing Barack Obama president in November. The stakes are simply too high for anything else.


Roger Owen Green said...

Ah, I see you have the W. countdown; I do too, but it's labeled "unless he's impeached first." Dennis Kucinich moved for impeachment - and Gitmo, I believe, was as contributing charge. Of course it won't go anywhere. this piece http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/06/12/boumediene/index.htmln by Glen Greenwald from Salon hits on some of the same points that you do.

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks for the link--I completely agree with Greenwald on this (obviously). I note, though, that the Bush-Cheney regime plans on basically ignoring the ruling by proceeding with military trials. We cannot be rid of this criminal regime fast enough!