Saturday, June 14, 2008

McCain said what?

"The United States Supreme Court rendered a decision yesterday that I think is one of the worst decisions in history..."

This is not something that needs context. 'Worst ever' means 'worst ever' no matter how you try to gloss it. I could rattle off a bunch more Supreme Court decisions that are worse, but I'd like to point out that this time Sentor McCain is simply wrong. The Supreme Court's decision, or at least the core holding of the decision, is right.

Here is a huge, well-thought out discussion of why. I will simplify it down to bite size:
The Suspension Clause does not require the writ of habeas corpus;
rather, it states that "[t]he Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus
shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

The power to suspend that writ is given to the President (probably) in time-critical situations, such as imminent invasion. Otherwise it is given to Congress. Since these detainees were in US custody for years, it is hard to see how the time-critical factor should even play a role. Congress didn't strip habeas corpus, so the detainees still have it. I know there are a whole number of complicating factors, but this is the base of the situation.

If McCain wants to beat up on a Supreme Court decision, he should pick a fight with Kelo v The City of New London, the taking-for-private-use eminent domain case. I would fully support anyone who wanted to overturn that incorrect, illiberal and undemocratic ruling. However, McCain is now on the wrong side of the law, history and apparently his earlier statements on the subject.

When a politician is wrong, I hope to call them out on it no matter what party they belong to. If Senator Obama had applauded this decision I would be castigating him. That's not the case. This time, Obama is right, McCain is wrong, and that's the end of it.

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