Thursday :: Dec 22, 2005

The Padilla Case and Trusting the Government


by CA Pol Junkie

Jose Padilla is an American citizen who has been held as an "emeny combatant" for the last three and a half years. He was initially denied access to a lawyer, and even hadn't been charged with a crime. The conservative 4th Circuit court of appeals had ruled in September that the government could indeed detain him indefinitely if it so choosed in spite of that pesky 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Bush administration won their case, so they could keep Padilla locked up in a naval brig. But then a funny thing happened: the government had Padilla indicted in civilian court a month ago. Why would they do this when they had just won a legal victory saying they didn't have to? The 4th Circuit's September ruling gave Padilla the right to appeal their verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court. Concerned that the Supreme Court might consider the Bill of Rights to be part of the Constitution, the Justice Department went back to the 4th Circuit and asked them to vacate their previous ruling and allow Padilla to be transfered to civilian court.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals didn't follow the administration's script.

The government has held Padilla militarily for three and a half years, steadfastly maintaining that it was imperative in the interest of national security that he be so held. However, a short time after our decision issued on the government's representation that Padilla's military custody was indeed necessary in the interest of national security, the government determined that it was no longer necessary that Padilla be held militarily. Instead, it announced, Padilla would be transferred to the custody of federal civilian law enforcement authorities and criminally prosecuted in Florida for alleged offenses considerably different from, and less serious than, those acts for which the government had militarily detailed Padilla.

That opinion, written by Supreme Court short-lister Michael Luttig, basically says How dare you lie to us! when translated from its original legalese. Those of us on the Left are less surprised than Judge Luttig that the Bush administration would lie. The Left's assignment for the 4th Circuit is to reread the Federalist Papers so that they understand why our constitution has checks and balances. The framers undersood human nature, so if the executive branch says "Trust me!" the proper reponse is not "Oh, alright." The Bush administration has aptly demonstrated the corruption of unchecked power, and the 4th Circuit was foolish in September to set aside the Bill of Rights in the name of "national security". The Bill of Rights is our national security, and the Supreme Court better damn well remember that when they rule on the Padilla case.

CA Pol Junkie :: 3:44 PM :: Comments (3) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!