The Executive branch of the US government, under the Bush administration, has consistently made its own laws and disobeyed others, disregarding Congress, the Geneva Conventions, and the Constitution as upheld by the Supreme Court.  The checks and balances that make the US system exemplary are hypocritically flouted by a President that preaches the virtues of democracy. 

It is, therefore, highly encouraging that a conservative Supreme Court, stacked in the administration’s favor, would rule soundly against Bush’s efforts to serve as judge, jury, and executioner to the prisoners at Guantanamo.  If the US Supreme Court cannot uphold due process and the basic principles of international law, then what court can?  Two dissenters, Scalia and Thomas, are so blatantly partisan in all their rulings, that it is a travesty that they will likely remain on the court for another ten or fifteen years.  The third dissenter, Alito, will likely follow in their footsteps.    

Justice Souter was unequivocal in his response to the Solicitor General’s efforts to argue that the writ of habeus corpus, which allows prisoners to challenge in a court of law the validity of their imprisonment, may be temporarily suspended:

Now wait a minute . . . the writ is the writ. There are not two writs of habeas corpus, for some cases and for other cases. The rights that may be asserted, the rights that may be vindicated, will vary with the circumstances, but jurisdiction over habeas corpus is jurisdiction over habeas corpus.

At this morning’s press conference, of course, Bush makes no commitment to close Guantanamo, but this ruling will necessarily lead to some form of reassessment. The second reporter to query him on this issue was told by Bush that he wasted his question, since the issue was already addressed in response to a question by the first reporter.  The initial response was, of course, rather vague, but, in all fairness, the administration has had no time to review the court’s decision 

Encouraging, too, is Republican Senator Arlen Specter’s move to challenge the President if he refuses to follow the rule of law.  Under discussion has been legislation that would allow Congress to sue the Chief Executive, before the Supreme Court, if he disregards legislation passed by Congress.  Specter, obviously concerned about the integrity of the system and the strength of the legislative branch, has been properly outraged over the presidential signing memos and the administration’s domestic surveillance operations, which have been conducted without adequate congressional or judicial oversight. 

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