Got No Excuse

Is that all right with you?

WASHINGTON – In a stinging rebuke to President Bush’s anti-terror policies, a deeply divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign detainees held for years at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their indefinite imprisonment without charges.


Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-4 high court majority, acknowledged the terrorism threat the U.S. faces — the administration’s justification for the detentions — but he declared, “The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”

Of course they were, Justice Kennedy, may you live a thousand years. Of course they were. This isn’t supposed to be easy. We aren’t supposed to get a free pass to act like assholes. Our laws were not designed to protect the pure, the innocent, the perfect, the good. They were designed to protect us all, and no matter how many anecdotes you tell me about somebody somewhere what got off on a technicality, no matter how many times you tell me I only believe this because I’ve never been victimized, no matter how many “Oh YEAH, well what about THIS” tales you pull out of your ass, you won’t come up with something to equal the beauty of the law that says to us all, you come to this table all of you the same.

The hope of innocent people everywhere — and don’teven, Feepers, I can hear the gerbil starting its reluctant course around the wheel, just put that shit to bed — is that somewhere, sometime, a judge will hear their case against their accusers. It’s a poor resort, really, given how often we find the innocent locked up anyway, but at least you have that. In the end, at the very bottom of everything, you have that. You can say, “I have rights” and someone will hear you.

It is hard to overstate what a terrible miscarriage of justice the Military Commissions Act of 2006 was; it is hard to be hyperbolic about a law which enshrined in our national conduct the idea that the powerless have no right to challenge the great. That an accusation is enough to finish you. That you are nothing. That you have nothing to say that could change anything. It’s hard to overstate that. It’s hard to make too much of it.

And for the life of me I fail to understand why those who wax poetic about the land of the free and the home of the brave are willing to grant that we are neither. Are willing to put on the line absolutely no possibility of being wrong, of being taken, of being incorrect. Are willing to take no risk at all, that at a trial the evidence you present will not bear out your case. It’s funny, almost, the constant “you hate America” diatribe: I look around me and I see, on a day so hot your feet cook on the asphalt and the ice cream truck trills down the street, I see a country that can withstand so much more than the meager estimation the Republican party gives it. I see a place that has rebuilt from disaster after disaster, that has gotten back up from the unimaginable time after time, and yet they want me to believe that this, this right now, what we’re going through, will break us, and do not see their words as the most staggering statement of cowardice. It astonishes me. It really does.

(I used to give these people the benefit of the doubt. I used to think, way back when, they must have something, because I cannot fathom a world in which we justdo this. Then the last half-decade happened, and the benefit of my doubt has hit its maximum deductible.)

Our president has said he will obey the law, which is a relief, which is kind of really fucking unbelievablysick, actually, that that has to be SAID, but trust me, they’ll find some way around doing the right thing in the next 222 days. They’ll find some way to shove something in sideways and one can only hope that the upcoming election will make our Democratic Congress less cowardly. Because the best argument they’ve got is the one their faithful servant Scalia made:

In a blistering dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said the decision “will make the war harder on us. It will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.”

To which I would like to add which war, and Jesus fuck is that all they’ve got, and I can’t believe this guy’s a Supreme Court justice, but also this: The point was never to make the wareasy on us. That isn’t the law. That’s not what it’s for.


6 thoughts on “Got No Excuse

  1. “you won’t come up with something to equal the beauty of the law that says to us all, you come to this table all of you the same.”
    bingo. you hit the nail square on the head.
    there was a conversation over at another nearby blog about a newspaper report that a judge somewhere ruled that the word “rape” could not be used by witnesses at a rape trial. people were freaking out in comments that the judge should be thrown off the bench.
    i tried explaining that a finding of rape is a conclusion of law, that the witnesses testify to specific acts and the jury determines whether the state has proved all essential elements of the crime of rape, and, importantly, that it is an emotionally-charged word which would unfairly prejudice the defendant, but that group was having none of it.
    sometimes i shake my head at how far we have to go before even half the people in this country understand basic constitutional law.
    there’s a deep and longstanding absence of civics education in this country.

  2. Someone should explain to Scalia that he’s a Supreme Court Justice, not a Fox News Mouthpiece.

  3. Athenae that was a great post, but it is astonishing that such a post could be considered as anything but stating the obvious, so obvious any 8th grader would would say, “of course, I know that.” When we, in our national stupidity, elect an idiot to be our president, this is what things come to.
    Scalia? Who the Hell dreamed up his reputation as a strict constructionist, where the Constitution was involved? That man hasn’t the slightest understanding of that document. For this opinion alone he deserves impeachment, not next month, but tomorrow. He is so clearly out of his depth at this job, and criminally so.
    You are right that the administration will not abide by that court ruling during the rest of its term in office. And, why should they, with a Congress that has loudly proclaimed that they will not even consider impeachment?

  4. I love it when you get all righteous A. I hate that you have to do it so damned often. I was having crackvan withdrawals all day Wed. They started Tuesday evening, it’s tuesday, it must be a primary crack van night. Though, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad it’s over.
    But won’t it be something fine after Jan 20, when we have a real Constitution loving President in office?

  5. “Cowards” is the term I have used today in comments to various posts regarding the scotus four idealogues. These brave men are so afraid because of the result of the lies and propaganda of this administration that they will sell our Constitutional soul to feel secure. Why is it that republicans put these pieces of shit into such an important position. But then, they put bush into the presidency, so I guess that answers the question.

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