Score one for the rule of law!

Fantastic news! The Supreme Court’s ruled this morning that military tribunals are illegal. This is a huge victory that could have much wider implications, as the Court held that the Geneva Convention actually does apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda.

Marty Lederman on has an interesting analysis: “This [ruling] almost certainly means that the CIA’s interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the administration has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).”

The vote was 5-3. The dissenters were (surprise!) Alito, Scalia, and Thomas. According to the AP,

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a strongly worded dissent and took the unusual step of reading part of it from the bench — something he had never done before in his 15 years. He said the court’s decision would “sorely hamper the president’s ability to confront and defeat a new and deadly enemy.”

The ruling can be found here (I warn you, it’s long). I haven’t had a chance to read through it, but I’m looking forward to it.

The ACLU press release, along with a copy of the amicus brief we filed in the case, can be found here.

All I can say is “Woo hoo!”

2 thoughts on “Score one for the rule of law!

  1. You have to love Thomas’ reasoning. He’s basically saying that rather than use humane, legal methods, any time we encounter something the president thinks is too dangerous, we can detain indefinitely, never charge, and torture the suspected enemy.

    I’m pretty sure progressives will be branded too dangerous for standard legal processes soon…

  2. I can’t agree with you, Sara, that it was predictable who would dissent and who would join the majority in this case. So-called “liberal” justices are as likely to support government power as not, and the so-called “conservatives” are sometimes the biggest defenders of individual rights. Just as the ACLU position has no guaranteed friends on the Supreme Court (not even former national staff member Justice R.B. Ginsburg), so it is wrong to write off any Justice’s vote automatically on supposedly ideological grounds.

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