Friday, November 11, 2005

Diminishing Rights of Detainees...

Last term, the United States Supreme Court determined that detainees held by the military during war time had a right to due process in the American legal system to challenge their detainment. This allowed the detainee to petition the Federal District Court through a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The title link goes to a story about how the Senate just passed a bill that would circumvent this decision, effectively obliterating any due process rights detainees may have had. In order for this particular statute to avoid violating the Constitution, it has to be made under Congress's power to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts. While this highlights the tension between the politics of the executive/legislative branches and the judiciary, the larger problem is the willingness of lawmakers to limit the rights of those with the fictional title of "enemy combatant." This title works in a particularly negative way. Its not a term acknowledged by international human rights treaties. This means that permanent detention is not within the restrictions of the Geneva Convetion. While a moment of rhetorical brilliance, do we really want to allow our government to violate human rights by changing the definition of who may be a detainee?

Don't forget to read "The Divide Destroying Democracy."

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