Two views of the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-3* decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld:
"What this decision has done is, it's hampered our ability to move forward with a tool which we had hoped would be available to the president of the United States in dealing with terrorists," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told CNN.[...] "We are currently evaluating the writings of the Supreme Court," Gonzales said, and "we are going to be working closely with Congress to look at legislation."
"It was gratifying to hear the belief in [Hamdan's] voice, the recognition that mighty people don't always get to do what they want." -- Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, Hamdan's military defense lawyer.
The decision itself may be read in its entirety here:
...and there's a learned discussion ("The Significance of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld") at:
Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy and Souter, in a brief concurrence with Mr. Justice Stevens' opinion:
"The Court's conclusion ultimately rests upon a single ground: Congress has not issued the Executive a 'blank check.' [...] Nothing prevents the President from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary. Where, as here, no emergency prevents consultation with Congress, judicial insistence upon that consultation does not weaken our Nation's ability to deal with danger. To the contrary, that insistence strengthens the Nation's ability to determine -- through democratic means -- how best to do so. The Constitution places its faith in those democratic means. Our Court today simply does the same."
As I tend to note on the Fourth of July, every country on earth fosters "patriotism," where that means a blind belief in the superiority of one's nation. The United States, however, includes in its notion of patriotism the fundamental commitment that there are limits to what the government is allowed to do to those in its power.
At the dawn of the two hundred thirty-first year of this country's fragile, and fitful, liberties, that commitment is -- however barely -- still there.** May her patriots continue against all odds to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." May God continue to bless America. :D
93 93/93 -- AJ
* It would have been a 5-4 decision, since both of President Bush's appointees -- Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito -- supported dictatorial powers for the president. Since the Chief Justice had already ruled in the president's favor when he was on the appellate bench, he recused himself from taking part in this decision.
** Among other things, this decision means that we're currently at 5-4 against Supreme Court acquiescence in a monarchy. If another monarchical president takes office, that could swing to 5-4 in favor of monarchy very quickly. But it hasn't yet, hence this post.