Friday, October 20, 2006

Will the last judge

Will the last judge to leave the courthouse please turn off the lights? You might as well leave the door unlocked, however, as it is apparent that the Republicans are not done looting the judiciary.

When Spot fired up his computer this morning, there was a message from CP mentioning to Spot this article in the Friday Washington Post. The Post gave it a prominent spot –page A18 – a curious place to announce the latest episode in America's continuing constitutional crisis and slide into fascism. Here's the headline and lede:

Court Told It Lacks Power in Detainee Cases

By Karen DeYoung

Moving quickly to implement the bill signed by President Bush this week that authorizes military trials of enemy combatants, the administration has formally notified the U.S. District Court here that it no longer has jurisdiction to consider hundreds of habeas corpus petitions filed by inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

You might notice, boys and girls, that the administration "formally notified" the court that it no longer had jurisdiction to consider the habeas corpus petitions. Not the administration filed motions to dismiss these habeas corpus petitions. Just told the court to buzz off. This action was taken as a result of the recently passed – and now signed into law – Military Commission Act. Among other thing, most of which Spot has already discussed, it eliminated the habeas corpus rights for detainees in the warron terra.

Mr. Marbury, meet Mr. Madison.

But Spotty, what if the administration locks up somebody who isn't even covered by the Military Commissions Act? Will the government just "notify" the court it doesn't have the jurisdiction to ever hear the case to determine whether the Military Commissions Act applies?

That's an excellent question, grasshopper. The government apparently believes it does not even have to come into court and show that the MCA applies. Just a little post card to the judge, sort of like the post cards you get, boys and girls, telling you that you may have won 23 million dollars in the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes. If that position prevails, anybody could be designated "hands off" by the administration. If that doesn't scare the everloving bejeesus out of you, boys and girls, it should.

In every case commenced in court, the court must determine as a preliminary matter whether it has the jurisdiction to hear the case. That decision, like all trial court decisions, is reviewable on appeal. But the trial court makes it in the first instance, not one of the litigants. Imagine boys and girls, if you were swindled out of a sum of money, and that when you sued to recover the money, the defendant could just write a letter to the judge saying, well, I don't live in the jurisdiction. You must dismiss. And the judge did dismiss, without even having a hearing and accepting proof on the residence of the defendant?

Another thing the administration is trying to do is keep these petitioners from presenting arguments that extinguishment of the writ of habeas corpus is unconstitutional under the Suspension Clause to the Constitution.

There is one lawyer in the Republican congressional delegation from Minnesota. That's Jim Ramstad. How did he vote on the Military Commissions Act? Well, for it of course. The others voted for it, too, but Jimbo's vote was especially odious and an affront to the rule of law. Shame on you Jimbo!

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