Bad Guy wins one for the Good Guys

Our entire US governmental system is standing on its ear. Never before in our history have the courts been the last bastion of freedom. After all, historically they strive to punish the bad people within the law. That is what our judicial system does. It locks away the bad guys. Phrases, clichés, come to mind. Blind justice, honorable judge, rule of law. Thanks goodness those things are not all fluff and hot air. And thank goodness some conservative Supreme Court Justices support the rule of law no matter how liberal the law seems. But that is another topic.

Yesterday a 4th US Circuit Court three member Federal Judge panel ruled, (my paraphrasing, full story here) that any US resident deemed to be an “enemy combatant” that is captured on US soil can not be held indefinitely by the US military. This ruling is a result of the Ali al-Marri case.  Ali al-Marri is not being set free, he is just getting his day in court.  This case in is not closed The US Justice Dept. plans to ask the full 4th US Circuit Court to hear their appeal. This issue is worth paying attention to. It is still possible this will go to the Supreme Court.

“This is a landmark victory for the rule of law and a defeat for unchecked executive power,” al-Marri’s lawyer, Jonathan Hafetz, said in a statement. “It affirms the basic constitutional rights of all individuals — citizens and immigrants — in the United States.”

The short of it is that this alleged bad guy’s case currently holds the only hope to strike down a bad interpretation of a bad law. If this ruling fails to stand then the military could arrest any US resident, label them an “enemy combatant” and hold them in prison indefinitely. And there would be no avenue for the arrestee to use the courts to get out from under that “enemy combatant” label. The executive branch could lock away dissenters and political enemies at whim. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like the kind of thing that happened in the former Soviet Union; the kind of thing that happened to Nelson Mandela in South Africa. It is the exact thing that subverts basic human rights.

But the straw house is crumbling, folks. The courts have begun to clear away all the self serving chaff that our current executive branch has been littering about. Issues like the NSA “domestic spying” seem to be resolved, yet are still pending in the courts. It is far from over, but I am starting to be hopeful that our government system of checks and balances will survive the push the executive branch has made to gain the upper hand.

Now if only our legislative branch would stop worrying about being re-elected and start doing what is right instead of what is politically safe. Until then, I will pin my hopes for a sane government on our judicial branch.

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One Response

  1. I’ve been watching this case, too. Hugely important, one for the history books. I hope the judiciary does the right thing, but we’ll have to wait and see. This administration (like pretty much all administrations) has worked hard to stack judicial benches with people who think the way Bushies think … so it’ll be a nail-biter all the way up to the Supreme Court. I’m sure it will reach that point; the administration will not give up, and the other side dare not give up if the current ruling is reversed.

    Thanks for a great heads-up!

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