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Those concerned about civil liberties should worry about Roberts

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fujiyama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:10 AM
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Those concerned about civil liberties should worry about Roberts
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 09:13 AM by fujiyama
Roberts, as we all know by now, is conservative without a doubt. I'd go as far to say that he's a republican hack. He's carried their water for sometime now and will likely do more on the highest court. He'll continue to be a reliable rubber stamp for this administration, the corporate elite, and the religious right.

Here's a great article from slate / on last week's ruling of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld where Roberts was part of the ruling.

"As a member of a three-judge panel on the D.C. federal court of appeals, Roberts signed on to a blank-check grant of power to the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists without basic due-process protections."

"According to the government, Salim Ahmed Hamdan is the former driver and bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden. He was captured by an Afghan militia in November 2001, during the U.S. invasion, and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay. In July 2003, the Bush administration brought charges against Hamdan, as it has done against only three others among the hundreds of suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo. Hamdan was accused of conspiring to commit attacks on civilians, murder, and terrorism, and the Bush administration moved to try him before a special military tribunal.

he opinion Roberts joined, written by Judge A. Raymond Randolph for a unanimous panel (though the third judge, Stephen Williams, expressed a reservation in a concurrence), swallows all of that and then some. The opinion says that Congress authorized the president to set up whatever military tribunal he deems appropriate when it authorized him to use "all necessary and appropriate force" to fight terrorism in response to 9/11. While the president has claimed the authority only to try foreign suspects before the tribunals, there's nothing in the Hamdan opinion that stops him from extending their reach to any other suspected terrorist, American citizens included. This amounts to a free handand one Bush is not shy about extending. The administration has already devised its own tribunals to review its claims that the Guantanamo detainees are all enemy combatants who are not entitled to the international protections accorded to prisoners of war. As of February, 558 hearings had resulted in freedom for only three prisoners. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the legality of these tribunalsa question that Roberts may now help decide.

Hamdan also says that the defendant, and by extension the other Guantanamo detainees, has no right to petition for release under the Geneva Conventions. Hamdan's lawyers argued that, since the president is prosecuting their client in the name of the laws of war, the president has to be bound by those laws. Their claim is a fairly limited onenot that Geneva gives the detainees a ticket to challenge the conditions of confinement or to sue for money damages, but that it sets the parameters for their trials. Since 1804, it's been a basic principle of statutory interpretationcalled, of all things, the Charming Betsy principlethat federal laws authorizing the government to do something have to be read so that they're consistent with international law. Here that international law is Geneva. Yet the panel ignores Charming Betsy and reads congressional authorization to allow the president to utterly disregard Geneva's definition of how war crimes are to be tried. According to the panel, Geneva protections can't be enforced in federal court by the people who say they have been deprived of them. If the United States is a laggard in honoring one of the cornerstones of international law, the court asserts, it's up to other countries to use diplomacy to make us shape up. "

"The panel's reasoning on this score is particularly weak. It is also at odds with a stance that Justice O'Connor took this spring. Writing for four of the justices, O'Connor said that "it is axiomatic that while treaties are compacts between nations, a treaty may also contain provisions which confer certain rights ... capable of enforcement as between private parties" in court. O'Connor wasn't writing about Geneva, and she wasn't writing about Guantanamothe case was Medellin v. Dretke, in which a majority of the court declined to rule on the claim of a Mexican death-row inmate that he was being held in violation of the Vienna Convention. Because O'Connor didn't speak for a majority of the Supreme Court, she wasn't making law. But it's close to impossible to square her stance with the panel's opinion in Hamdannot that her view will matter much once she's gone and Roberts is sitting in her chair."
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