Category Archives: judges

Supreme Court rules for al Qaeda in Hamdan

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 5-3 against the Bush Administration in the Hamdan case.

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The ruling, a rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti- terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and Geneva conventions.


The vote was split 5-3, with moderate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joining the court’s liberal members in ruling against the Bush administration. Chief Justice John Roberts, named to the lead the court last September by Bush, was sidelined in the case because as an appeals court judge he had backed the government over Hamdan.

More later after the ruling becomes available.

The ruling can be read here.

Via Michelle Malkin:

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) today issued the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Hamdan case:

“We are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision. However, we believe the problems cited by the Court can and should be fixed.

“It is inappropriate to try terrorists in civilian courts. It threatens our national security and places the safety of jurors in danger. For those reasons and others, we believe terrorists should be tried before military commissions.

“In his opinion, Justice Breyer set forth the path to a solution of this problem. He wrote, ‘Nothing prevents the president from returning to Congress to seek the authority he believes necessary.’

“We intend to pursue legislation in the Senate granting the Executive Branch the authority to ensure that terrorists can be tried by competent military commissions. Working together, Congress and the administration can draft a fair, suitable, and constitutionally permissible tribunal statute.”

So in short, it’s a mixed bag – the Supreme Court made a bad ruling that undermines the authority of the Commander in Chief during wartime, but they left open a door to allow Congress to rectify the problem the Court created today. Congress should act quickly to do so. There’s a war on – trying to give amnesty to illegal aliens and stopping a few hippies from burning the flag can wait a week or two.


Totalitarians airbrushing American history

From WorldNetDaily (via California Conservative), an update on the story abut the Mt. Soledad war memorial in San Diego, specifically the efforts by the forces of atheism and intolerance on the left to tear down the memorial.

Judge orders San Diego cross removed

Ruling on a 15-year-old ACLU case, a federal judge today ordered the city of San Diego to remove a mountain-top cross within 90 days or face a fine of $5,000 a day.

U.S. District Judge Gordon Thompson said, “It is now time, and perhaps long overdue, for this court to enforce its initial permanent injunction forbidding the presence of the Mount Soledad cross on city property,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Thompson ruled in 1991 the Mount Soledad cross violates the so-called “separation of church and state” but the case has remained in courts and become an issue of public policy for more than a decade.

The idea that including a cross on a war memorial violates the U.S. Constitution, or even worse, that an existing monument must be torn down, is entirely ludicrous. It doesn’t even come close. Frankly, these efforts by the ACLU and like-minded groups are simply un-American, a direct attack on the heritage and culture of this nation.

It’s become fashionable for many on the left to compare anyone they don’t like – President Bush, Christian conservatives, etc. – to the Taliban, but in this case the analogy is apt. This effort to airbrush American history and culture, led by the ACLU and abetted by an activist, constitution-shredding judge, is akin to the Taliban blowing up those Buddhist statues in Afghanistan in early 2001. All of the enemies of Western civilization are not in the Middle East.

No word yet on when the ACLU will begin the effort to change the (specifically Catholic!?!) name of the city of San Diego itself. You know they would if they could.

Establishment of atheism is unconstitutional
The ACLU vs. America
Do liberals “support our troops”?

How to identify American totalitarians

Quote of the day, strict constructionist edition

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (via the AP):

“What is a moderate interpretation of (the Constitution)? Halfway between what it says and halfway between what you want it to say?”

That is all.

Justice Ginsburg details death threat

Via CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has acknowledged a specific death threat against her and her retired colleague Sandra Day O’Connor, blaming lawmakers for fueling “the irrational fringe.”

It should go without saying that it’s a terrible thing for any public official to receive a threat of violence. But the idea that mere criticism of public officials, even including judges, should be stigmatized or prohibited in any way cuts at the heart of the ideal of free speech. Now-retired Justice O’Connor also gave a speech recently where she criticized the criticism of the judicial branch. From the California Conservative blog:

Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican-appointed judge who retired last month after 24 years on the [S]upreme [C]ourt, has said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party’s right-wingers continue to attack the judiciary.

But actually, O’Connor has it completely backwards – it’s the inability to criticize government officials that’s more likely to be a sign of dictatorship.

Democrats tried this tack last year, intimating that criticism of judical activism was a threat to our way of life. As we noted then, their concerns do not seem to extend to criticism of conservative judges such as Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Bill Pryor, Priscilla Owens, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, et al.

But additionally, unless one holds that judges hold some special place in our society high above that of members of the other co-equal branches of government, then the standard cannot apply merely to judges, but must be applied to all public officials. Therefore, any Democrat who holds the standard that it’s out of bounds to criticize Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legal views must immediately cease any and all criticism of President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, and any member of the administration. Otherwise, if some lone nut in a chat room on the Internet makes a threat, God forbid, it will be on their heads.

Senator Cornyn’s comments on judges, and leftist hypocrisy
Democrats oppose “judicial bashing”?
Democrat Senator Reid incites violence against judges…
Another Democrat incites violence against judges

In case you needed another reason to love Justice Scalia…

From the AP ( via The Washington Post):

“That’s the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break.”

“But you would have to be an idiot to believe that,” Scalia said. “The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things.”

Proponents of the living constitution want matters to be decided “not by the people, but by the justices of the Supreme Court.”

“They are not looking for legal flexibility, they are looking for rigidity, whether it’s the right to abortion or the right to homosexual activity, they want that right to be embedded from coast to coast and to be unchangeable,” he said.

That just about sums it up.

Incidentally, how do those who argue for a “living, breathing Constitution” then turn around and argue that the president does not have the Constitutional authority to wiretap al Qaeda? Isn’t a “living breathing Constitution” the answer to any objection?

“The president can’t wiretap terrorists without a warrant! It’s unconstitutional!”

. . .”The Constitution is a living breathing document. Times change, the law evolves, etc…”

“The president can’t detain foreign combatants without all the legal protections accorded a citizen of the U.S in a criminal proceeding!”

. . .”The Constitution is a living breathing document. Times change, the law evolves, etc…”

The possibilities are endless. Liberals really can’t have it both ways.

Murderer on death row ‘too old to die’

From the Los Angeles Times:

SAN QUENTIN — California prison officials executed 76-year-old murderer Clarence Ray Allen at the state prison here early today after his final appeal was turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Lawyers for Allen argued that his lengthy time on death row, age and ill health should have barred his execution; he recently had a heart attack, suffered from diabetes, was legally blind and used a wheelchair. But Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a series of courts rejected those pleas over the last several days.


Justice Stephen G. Breyer issued the only dissent, a brief statement noting Allen’s age, ill health and the fact that he “has been on death row for 23 years.”

“I believe that in the circumstances, he raises a significant question as to whether his execution would constitute ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’.” Breyer wrote.

This reminds us of the pleas for compassion for the Menendez brothers because they were orphans (after being convicted for murdering both their parents). It’s simply ridiculous to drag out the appeals for a convicted murderer for over 20 years, then complain that he’s too old to be executed. But those opposed to justice will try anything.

Judge Alito admits he’s a conservative, liberals horrified

In his application for a position as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 1985, Judge Alito said:

“I am and always have been a conservative and an adherent to the same philosophical views that I believe are central to this Administration…..I believe very strongly in limited government, federalism, free enterprise, the supremacy of the elected branches of government, the need for a strong defense and effective law enforcement, and the legitimacy of a government role in protecting traditional values.


Most recently, it has been an honor and source of personal satisfaction for me to serve in the office of the Solicitor General during President Reagan’s administration and to help to advance legal positions in which I personally believe very strongly. I am particularly proud of my contributions in recent cases in which the government has argued in the Supreme Court that racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion.

Pretty unremarkable stuff really. It strikes us as a rally good summation of just the sort of person who should be nominated to the Supreme Court. Hopefully, this reflects his current views. It will fire up the liberal interest groups though, to put it mildly. Conservatives wanted a fight about the role of the judiciary. Looks like we’ll get one now. Bring It On!

More from Patterico, Prof Bainbridge, and Confirm Them.

Hypocritical Democrats attack sitting judge

Speaking of the Democrats’ knee-jerk name-calling in the wake of the Alito nomination, remember when the Democrats used to say that criticizing judges was wrong, even dangerous?

Democrat Senator Reid incites violence against judges…
Another Democrat incites violence against judges

Linked at OTB.

Bush picks Alito, Democrats engage in the usual name-calling, situation normal

So now we can all just put that whole unfortunate Harriet Miers episode behind us. President Bush appears by all accounts to have made another great pick for the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito, Jr.

From the WaPo:

Bush, fresh from withering criticism of Miers for her lack of judicial experience and questions about her intellect, stressed Alito’s many years of litigation experience, first arguing 12 cases before the Supreme Court and then his years as an appeals court judge. Bush said Alito was the most experienced nominee in 70 years. The president highlighted the fact that Alito went to the Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the prestigious law review. Bush called Alito “brilliant.”

Alito’s resume, including his service in the Justice Department during the Reagan administration, is very much unlike that of Miers’s, who had no appellate experience, and very much like that of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

And like Roberts, Alito served during the Reagan administration in the Office of the Solicitor General, which argues on behalf of the government before the Supreme Court.

Unlike Roberts, he has opined from the bench on abortion rights, church-state separation and gender discrimination to the pleasure of conservatives and displeasure of liberals.

Democrats, who seem capable of little more than petty name-calling, are less thrilled than conservatives. Harry Reid led the way to the sandbox:

The nomination of Judge Alito requires an especially long, hard look by the Senate because of what happened last week to Harriet Miers. Conservative activists forced Miers to withdraw from consideration for this same Supreme Court seat because she was not radical enough for them. Now the Senate needs to find out if the man replacing Miers is too radical for the American people.

Harry Reid plainly doesn’t know what the word “radical” means. He’s just throwing around a word he has no understanding of as a cheap epithet. We might expect that sort of behavior from some leftist blogger trying to get attention, but not from the senate minority leader.

Update: And now this from Hugh Hewitt:

Schumer Hits Bottom

Chuck Schumer just argued that it is possible that Judge Alito, as Justice Alito, would roll back the achievements of Rosa Parks….

A despicable slander. And it’s only been a couple of hours…

More: A big roundup from Michelle Malkin. And a good roundup of leftwing reactions from ConfirmThem.

Hugh Hewitt has an online Alito poll up.

Harriet Miers withdraws, Democrats call people names, situation normal

Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. That sound you hear is a big sigh of relief from conservatives all over America. As Michelle Malkin put it on her blog this morning:

“What a relief. Sad, pensive, what-a-waste relief. Not happy-joy-joy relief.”

That’s our feeling on the matter in a nutshell.

Hugh Hewitt’s reaction comes off a bit whiny:

“I think Ms. Miers has been unfairly treated by many who have for years urged fair treatment of judicial nominees.

She deserves great thanks for her significant service to the country. She and the president deserved much better from his allies.

There’s nothing unfair about asking legitimate questions about a nominee for the Supreme Court. Was there some rhetoric from Miers’ detractors that went over the top? Sure. But a blanket condemnation of any criticism is unfair, Hugh.

Like night follows day, the Democrats immediately went into their knee-jerk name-calling mode:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) echoed that view in a statement this morning. “The radical right wing of the Republican Party killed the Harriet Miers nomination,” he said.

More reason the opinions of people like Reid should be ignored when choosing the next nominee.

But now is the time to put this whole ugly episode behind us. The president will pick a great nominee next time, conservatives will rally to support him, onward and upward.

More reaction from The Volokh Conspiracy, and a roundup from Wizbang.