Thursday, December 18, 2003

TWO VICTORIES FOR THE RULE OF LAW
...and defeats for the Bush administration.

First, a federal appeals court ruled that authorities do not have the power to detain an American citizen arrested on US soil as an "enemy combattant." The panel added that the administration was free to transfer him to civilian courts.

We are as keenly aware as anyone of the threat al-Qaeda poses to our country and of the responsibilities the president and law enforcement officials bear for protecting the nation, noted the US Second Court of Appeals. But presidential authority does not exist in a vacuum. [emphasis mine]

Later in the day, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that detainees at Guantanamo Bay should have access to lawyers and the US court system. 660 people are being held indefinitely and without charge at the base as "enemy combattants."

The court declared, Even in times of national emergency... it is the obligation of the judicial branch to ensure the preservation of our constitutional values and to prevent the executive branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike.

Hopefully, neither of these verdicts will be overturned by the US Supreme Court.

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