Independent Christian Voice


Senate votes to deny detainees access to courts

Republicans have officially lost all common decency and demonstrated their contempt for upholding a higher standard for basic human rights. This is utterly despicable. From the Associated Press:
The Senate voted Thursday to bar foreign terror suspects at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from challenging their detentions in American courts, despite a Supreme Court ruling last year that granted access. In a 49-42 vote, senators added the provision by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to a sweeping defense policy bill. […] Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., called the provision a major mistake and said it deserved closer scrutiny by lawmakers. "It's contrary to the way the court decisions have come down already. It is an extraordinary step for this Congress to be taking," he said. Nevertheless, three Democrats sided with 46 Republicans to insert the provision in the overall defense bill. Four Republicans voted against the amendment.

Obsidian Wings provides some context to this issue:

This would be bad enough if we did not have any reason to distrust the administration. But now, when people have been held for years without any sort of trial or review, when there have been stories of abuse and mistreatment, and when the administration is asserting its right to do whatever it wants with detainees, bound by neither laws nor treaties, is the worst possible time to propose a bill like this.

The right of habeas corpus -- the right to challenge the legality of your detention -- is one of the foundations of our legal system. As Justice Stevens wrote in Rasul v. Bush:

"What is presently at stake is only whether the federal courts have jurisdiction to determine the legality of the Executive’s potentially indefinite detention of individuals who claim to be wholly innocent of wrongdoing. Answering that question in the affirmative, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for the District Court to consider in the first instance the merits of petitioners’ claims."

In Rasul, the Supreme Court held that detainees do have the rights Senator Graham now wants to strip them of. And the Court was right: our system of justice does not and should not countenance the indefinite detention, without any right to appeal, of anyone at all.


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