Abate for Congress: “Rights. Reason. Responsibility.”
When the United States Supreme Court hears arguments this week in a landmark dispute over executive power, the Bush administration will be outnumbered, if not outgunned.
More than three dozen of the nation’s top law firms have signed and filed briefs against the government and in support of a Guantanomo Bay detainee who allegedly served as a chauffeur to Osama bin Laden. Only a handful of briefs have been filed by lawyers in support of the government, backing the administration’s expansive view of executive authority.
The briefs against the government argue that the military tribunals established by George W. Bush through an executive order are illegal. The New York Law Journal quoted Paul Saunders, a partner for Cravath, Swaine and Moore: “This has nothing to do with 9/11 or supporting terrorism. This case raises [a] fundamental issue … whether the president has the power to create a parallel system of courts that is self executing.”
These top, blue chip law firms are nothing if not conservative. Yet they have rallied to this case because it is a defining issue for the basic American principle that we are a country of laws, and not of men. A parallel system of courts which is not subject to the Constitution should be every American’s nightmare. As one lawyer told the New York Law Journal, “The government has gone too far.”
The Supreme Court can rule the military tribunals unconstitutional, just as it ruled unconstitutional the denial of judicial review for detainees who have not been charged with a crime but continue to be imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.
One of the prime reasons we need to replace most of the current crop of Congressional representatives is because right after the Court ruled that detainees must have the right to petition the courts for an independent review, Congress in its infinite wisdom passed the Detainee Treatment Act, which stripped the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over Guantanamo Bay cases. The Act was sponsored by Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich, and Senators Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
This belief that the White House has far reaching powers outside the Constitution, and that Congress has the power to legislate out of our government the system of checks and balances, is at the heart of what persuaded me to run in the first place. For true Americans, there can be no such thing as being moderately in favor of the Constitution.