Monday, July 10, 2006

Dog Pile on SCOTUS, Part I

"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible... Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness."

-- George Orwell

The Supreme Court is the latest institution to come under the Rove machine's crosshairs as the Bush administration continues its pursuit of unlimited executive powers. It's a multi-pronged assault that contains the standard cast of characters repeating a familiar script, and typifies the operating procedures of the White House and its echo chamberlains.

Young Mister Bush is no longer satisfied with interpreting legislation in whatever manner he chooses. Now he's revising decisions of the Supreme Court.

In a July 7 press conference, referring to the Hamdan versus Rumsfeld ruling, Bush said the court was "…silent on whether or not Guantánamo--whether or not we should have used Guantánamo. In other words, they accepted the use of Guantánamo, the decision I made."

The court accepted nothing of the sort. They were silent on the Guantanamo question because, as Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times aptly notes:
The question of whether Mr. Bush had properly used Guantánamo Bay to house detainees was not at issue in the case. At issue was whether the president could unilaterally establish military commissions with rights different from those allowed at a court-martial to try detainees for war crimes.

The existence and use of Guantanamo as a detention center was not at issue because Hamadan's attorneys did not address it in their petition. I've studied quite a bit of case law over the past year in the course of researching presidential powers. Among the most striking things I've noticed is that lawyers don't generally approach the Supreme Court Justices with scattergun arguments and try to baffle them with bunkum. They construct focused arguments on behalf of their clients. Hamdan's legal team limited its plea to points of constitutional law that they successfully argued protect Hamdan from trial by military commissions established by Mister Bush.

The Supreme Court is laudably scrupulous about not judging on matters that aren't pressed by the plaintiff. Arguably, for them to do so would indeed constitute "legislating from the bench."

For Mister Bush to claim that the court's silence on the legality of the existence and use of the Guantanamo constituted a tacit approval is a complete fabrication.

But, as we've seen, fabrication is part and parcel of this administration's political strategy.

Next: more dogs join the pile...


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.


  1. Jeff:

    You're exactly right. Further, even when the Court does rule on an issue, they tend to do so as narrowly as possible, particularly when Constitutional issues are involved. Their "silence," despite what Bush claims, indicates absolutely nothing about their approval of any of his actions. It simply means they knew the issues raised and ruled on them.

  2. Thanks for the confirmation, Mus. I tried to be careful how I worded the "legislate from the bench" remark, but it seems to me that they would truly be doing so if they started making sweeping judgements on issues not on trial.

    If they started passing judgements on every act of Congress and the executive branch... Holy cow!

  3. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Given that the Preznit's job is to enforce, not interpret the law, his "signing" statements are unconstitutional, illegal and a blatant effort to give himself a line-item veto.

    But our Congress, the biggest single collection of idiots ever assembled since the French Parliament of 1898 or Roman Senate (take your pick, our guys surpass even those moronic levels) will continue careening down the path of making itself IRRELEVANT by continuing to give der Shrubenfuherer unlimited powers, thereby writing itself out of the Constitution.

    SCOTUS is hanging on to our liberties by a razor thin thread. If Chief Justice Rhenquist, a cancer SURVIVOR, who had decided NOT to retire, but to remain on the bench instead, conveniently died soon thereafter, who would really question the equally convenient death of 87 year old Stevens? Not that I mean to suggest that the Bush crime regime would ever stoop to anything THAT low...

    The Gun lobby is successfully getting "license to kill" laws passed so that the United States is fast becoming a wild frontier where armed violence is encouraged by law. That in turn will hasten the onset of martial law and those Haliburton concentration camps will finally be put to use.

    Middle class America is being strangled to death and soon its inhabitants will be left to chose between starving to death on the streets or working at Walmart for room and board at a company labor camp, or joining the military.

    While of course, the 1% of the Earth's inhabitants who have wealth, live like gods.

    It's the New World Order.

    Jesus hated bankers and politicians, particularly when they meddled in human affairs. He was right. They are the scourge of the Earth and all of their ill-gotten wealth has brought this sad, sorry excuse for a United States Congress into power.

    Diebold will keep them there long enough to finish destroying what's left of this Republic.