Best news of the week so far
NY Times says: "Justices Rule Terror Suspects Can Appeal in Civilian Courts."
Here's Justice Anthony M. Kennedy in the majority opinion (5 to 4):
"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
"To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this court, say 'what the law is.'"
Thank you, Justices Kennedy, Stevens, Breyer, Ginsburg, and Souter. I'm having a hard time expressing how important I think this ruling is. I'm really really pleased, and I'm getting all choked up reading those Kennedy quotes.
Thank you also to the Center for Constitutional Rights and other legal organizations that've been working for years to get this to happen. I've been donating to the CCR for the past few years because of the work they do on the Guantánamo issue; they were, as they put it, "the first organization to step forward to defend the detainees." There's still lots of work to be done; if you have any interest in this stuff, and can spare the cash, I recommend that you donate to them too.
As the NYT article notes, "the immediate effects of the ruling are not clear." One of the dissenting Justices wrote that this decision "merely replaces a review system designed by the people’s representatives with a set of shapeless procedures to be defined by federal courts at some future date." So we're not done yet.
But this still seems to me to be a huge milestone along the way.
For some more details, see the helpful LA Times Q&A on "What the Supreme Court ruling means for Guantanamo prisoners." That last question and answer are particularly telling: most of the lawyers who represent the prisoners have not yet been able to tell the prisoners about the ruling. "It may take two weeks for their letters explaining the ruling's implications to reach the men in their cells."
See also the CCR press release, which includes more quotes, plus a link (at the bottom) to the PDF of the full decision.