Judge puts a brake on extra-judicial Guantanamo transfers

According to the Washington Post, a judge has ruled against the Pentagon, which had hoped to send 13 Guantanamo detainees to countries where they may force torture. The Pentagon must provide 30 days advance notice to allow the detainees’ lawyers to file an appeal.

    “They got the wrong guys at the wrong place,” said Michael Ratner, of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These people were imprisoned, interrogated and tortured for no reason. So now the government wants to get rid of them, because they just can’t justify what they’ve done.”

As a result of this ruling, the detainees should get their day in court, and the courts should establish oversight over Guantanamo Bay operations and control over detainee transfers.

Democrats merge with Republicans in all but name

Hard on the heels of Jesse Jackson praying with the Schindlers (Terri Schiavo’s parents), comes “word that Senator Hillary Clinton has joined right wing advocates in decrying the gaming industry as a paragon of loose morals and corrupting influences. From the article: “Children are playing a game that encourages them to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them…This is a silent epidemic of media desensitisation that teaches kids it’s OK to diss people because they are a woman, they’re a different colour or they’re from a different place.”

So the game isn’t exactly savory. But censorship poses its own historically well-established set of problems, and the harms posed by this game are assumed, not proven. With the most scarily secretive presidential administration in history, we need to work on opening society, not clamping down on it.

Rev. Jesse Jackson over the edge

It was bad enough that Jesse Jackson hosted Michael Jackson on his radio show, in which the “King of Pop actually compared his child molestation prosecution to the persecution suffered by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and boxing champions Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson.” Now the Reverend, who, as I recall, pointed to jobs and health care as being more relevant than stem cell research and gay marriage, has joined with Terri Schiavo’s parents in prayer, condemning the removal of her feeding tube. “‘I feel so passionate about this injustice being done, how unnecessary it is to deny her a feeding tube, water, not even ice to be used for her parched lips,’ he said. ‘This is a moral issue and it transcends politics and family disputes.'”

File-swapping suit has implications too broad for Supreme Court?

According to an Associated Press story, Supreme Court justices seemed sympathetic to fears that if the recording industry prevails in its suit against Grokster, the effect will discourage technological innovation. ” Justice Antonin Scalia said a ruling against Grokster, a developer of leading file-sharing software, could mean that if ‘I’m a new inventor, I’m going to get sued right away.'” Other justices seemed to agree, with Justice David H. Souter, noting that Apple iPod users could play illegally downloaded music, wondering if the industry hadn’t acted arbitrarily in suing Grokster, not Apple.

Our next chief justice?

As U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist’s health deteriorates, many think President Bush will choose Antonin Scalia to replace him. “Speaking at a closed meeting attended by Wilson Center scholars, staff, and the media, Justice Antonin Scalia explained his approach to constitutional jurisprudence.” The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has published its account of Scalia’s remarks.

Scalia believes himself able to interpret the Constitution as its framers intended. Disregarding the logic behind Roe v. Wade, “he said, abortion was criminalized by most of the states 200 years ago but Supreme Court decisions of the last three decades have made state prohibitions on abortion unconstitutional. Those decisions, he argued, are wrong. The electorate can bring about democratic change by putting such issues on the legislative agenda, ‘but it is not the function of the Constitution to do that.'”

Michael Dorf, writing in Findlaw, describes the argument that the constitution does not mention abortion as “bad argument number one.”

    When somebody says that abortion–or any other right–is unprotected because [it is] not enumerated in the Constitution’s text, he flatly contradicts the Ninth Amendment. Conversely, the Roe and Casey Courts were both right to rely on this Amendment in their decisions.

But Scalia’s “originalism” defies and abandons logic. In his doctrine, we cannot derive rights, even when not to do so violates existing rights. Further, much like Mormons converting the dead, it presumes an ability to divine the framers’ original intent, and a right to speak for them.

    “The Court has essentially liberated itself from the text of the Constitution and even from the traditions of the American people,” Justice Scalia proclaimed.