Tuesday, June 12, 2007

No New Jurisprudence in Enemy Combatant Decision

While much has been made of the decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to curtail powers of the president to declare civilians "enemy combatants" and hold them indefinitely without trial, the Court of Appeals appears to only affirm what the USSC decided in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004). Justice O'Connor wrote:

While we accord the greatest respect and consideration to the judgments of military authorities in matters relating to the actual prosecution of a war, and recognize that the scope of that discretion necessarily is wide, it does not infringe on the core role of the military for the courts to exercise their own time-honored and constitutionally mandated roles of reviewing and resolving claims like those presented here. Cf. Korematsu v. United States, 323 U. S. 214, 233–234 (1944) (Murphy, J., dissenting) ("[L]ike other claims conflicting with the asserted constitutional rights of the individual, the military claim must subject itself to the judicial process of having its reasonableness determined and its conflicts with other interests reconciled"); Sterling v. Constantin, 287 U. S. 378, 401 (1932) ("What are the allowable limits of military discretion, and whether or not they have been overstepped in a particular case, are judicial questions").

In sum, while the full protections that accompany challenges to detentions in other settings may prove unworkable and inappropriate in the enemy-combatant setting, the threats to military operations posed by a basic system of independent review are not so weighty as to trump a citizen’s core rights to challenge meaningfully the Government’s case and to be heard by an impartial adjudicator.

Indeed, the 4th Circuit's decision (oddly enough one which was overturned in the Hamdi case) falls in line with the Court's reasoning approximately 3 years ago. Indefinite detention of so-called "enemy combatants" is unconstitutional and unsound use of governmental power.

No comments: