Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: It's Not Dead Yet

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It's Not Dead Yet

Habeas corpus, that is. As much as the Bush administration has worked to undermine it, as much as the Senate was willing to go along with the administration, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the prisoners at Guantanamo have inalienable writes from which they can't, y'know, be alienated. Justice Kennedy proved that he hasn't yet succumbed to the dark side, writing for the majority: "The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times." Yeah, I guess. I'm extremely concerned about the state of Constitutional understanding in this country, though. I've read more than a couple of statements in the mainstream press assuring readers that, although the detainees do indeed have rights, that doesn't mean that they'll be released any time soon. No, I guess they wouldn't. As I've always been taught, prisoners (and all of us, actually), have the right to be treated fairly. If criminals are found guilty after receiving a fair trial, well, then they're still guilty, and they receive their punishment. A new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals that the number of people in the American justice system is at a new high. It hardly seems like Constitutional rights such as habeas corpus are letting criminals run wild within the system.

It seems, though, that Antonin Scalia is quite alarmed by his some of his colleagues' dependence on Constitutional values. Perhaps "original intent" has been expanded to include the intent of regimes that existed before the Constitution was written. "We, the people of the United States," did not "ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America" just to suspend it when we get scared. I'm not sure how taking the Constitution at its word, that "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it," can really be considered "overreaching," as he accused the other justices of doing, but I guess legal geniuses think differently than you or I.


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