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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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Supreme Court Rethinks Torture

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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The Supreme Court released it’s latest ruling on Guantanamo. Not a good day for Gonzales or Bush. The ruling is one of four that, in my view at least, repudiate the notion that the US Gov’t can arrest people indefinitely without a real trial and real trial means real – constitutionally valid – trial, even if it’s a military tribunal.

NY Times: Justices, 5-3, Broadly Reject Bush Plan to Try Detainees

“The executive is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction,” Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the 5-to-3 majority, said at the end of a 73-page opinion that in sober tones shredded each of the administration’s arguments, including the assertion that Congress had stripped the court of jurisdiction to decide the case.

NY Times: Ruling Leaves Uncertainty at Guantánamo

Only 10 of the approximately 450 detainees now held at Guantánamo have been formally charged before the military commissions.

The Defense Department repeated that view on Thursday, asserting that the court’s sweeping ruling against the tribunals did not undermine the government’s argument that it can hold foreign suspects indefinitely and without charge, as “enemy combatants” in its declared war on terror.

Privately, though, some administration officials involved in detention policy — along with many critics of that policy — were skeptical that Guantánamo could or would go about its business as before. “It appears to be about as broad a holding as you could imagine,” said one administration lawyer, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the ruling. “It’s very broad, it’s very significant, and it’s a slam.”

For another perpective, Bill O’Reilly waxes jurisprudential:

The four liberal justices, plus Justice Kennedy, said the president has overstepped his authority and must get congressional approval for military tribunals. The rulings contain much bloviating and mumbo-jumbo. It’s what those people do. But bottom line: the liberal Supremes believe President Bush is commanding too much power. The three conservative judges say the president is within his authority.

What’s the big deal you say? Surely these military tribunals do a more than adequate job trying these cases. Well folks, there’s a reason our legal system is, and always has been, adversarial. Reasons like this.

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