Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Breaking News: Constitution still in effect

A U.S. District Judge in South Carolina has just reaffirmed my faith in our judicial system and, in the process, slammed the Bush administration for their radical notion that they can detain people indefinitely without ever charging them with a crime.

Rejecting a series of arguments put forward by the government, District Court Judge Henry F. Floyd said the indefinite detention of Jose Padilla -- who the administration has said is a terrorist supporter of al Qaeda -- is illegal and that Padilla must be released from a naval brig in Charleston, S.C., within 45 days or charged with a crime.

In a strongly worded 23-page ruling, Floyd said "to do otherwise would not only offend the rule of law and violate this country's constitutional tradition, but it would also be a betrayal of this Nation's commitment to the separation of powers that safeguards our democratic values and our individual liberties."

I want to note that Judge Floyd is a Republican appointee, having been placed in his seat by none other than George W. Bush in 2003. This is not an example of liberal judicial activism, but an instance of true conservatism - the kind that this radical administration abandoned long ago.

Here is Judge Floyd throwing the "judicial activisim" taunt back at the administration where it belongs.

"Using a phrase often levied by conservatives to denigrate liberal judges, Floyd -- who was appointed by President Bush to the federal bench in 2003 -- accused the administration of engaging in "judicial activism" when it asserted in court pleadings that Bush has blanket authority under the Constitution to detain Americans on U.S. soil who are suspected of taking or planning actions against the country.

Floyd said the government presented no law supporting this contention and that just because Bush and his appointees say Padilla's detention was consistent with U.S. laws and the president's war powers, that did not make it so. "Moreover, such a statement is deeply troubling. If such a position were ever adopted by the courts, it would totally eviscerate the limits placed on Presidential authority to protect the citizenry's individual liberties."

I have to agree with Donna Newman, one of Padilla's attorneys, when she said the "court ruled that the president does not have the power to seize an American citizen on American soil and hold him indefinitely without a charge. That shouldn't be big news, but it is. . . ."

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