Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A loyal Republican

Judge John Roberts
SCOTUS nominee Roberts: presumed innocent

Thank You, Mr. President
Last week, John Roberts wrote Bush a blank check.
By Emily Bazelon opinion that the 50-year-old judge [John Roberts] joined just last week in the case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld should be seriously troubling to anyone who values civil liberties. As a member of a three-judge panel on the D.C. federal court of appeals, Roberts signed on to a blank-check grant of power to the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists without basic due-process protections.

According to the government, Salim Ahmed Hamdan is the former driver and bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden. He was captured by an Afghan militia in November 2001, during the U.S. invasion, and shipped off to Guantanamo Bay. In July 2003, the Bush administration brought charges against Hamdan, as it has done against only three others among the hundreds of suspected terrorists being held at Guantanamo. Hamdan was accused of conspiring to commit attacks on civilians, murder, and terrorism, and the Bush administration moved to try him before a special military tribunal.

This tribunal isn't like the courts-martial that are used for prisoners of war. It goes by rules that cut back the rights of defendants even more drastically than the tribunal that the United States has helped establish in Iraq to try Saddam Hussein has. Hamdan has no right to be present at his trial. Unsworn statements, rather than live testimony, can be presented as evidence against him. The presumption of innocence can be taken away from him at any time; so can his right not to testify to avoid self-incrimination. If Hamdan is convicted, he can be sentenced to death.

Read the rest at Slate.
This was a panel of three conservative judges who basically ignored the Supreme Court's ruling that said these prisoners can challenge their detention in court. Roberts didn't write the ruling, but he signed on to it. I'm not sure if it is because he doesn't like civil liberties, or if he is just a partisan hack who will always side with Republicans when he gets to the Supreme Court. After all, he has way more experience working for Republican presidents than he has as a judge.


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