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Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 Should Be Day of Reflection, Not Agenda Pushing

On this day, the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC, citizens throughout the country are taking time to remember the horrible tragedy of that day, and how our nation has been forever changed by those cowardly acts of aggression. This is only naturally, and beyond that, perfectly appropriate. Unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal decided to take this opportunity to spread more rightwing rhetoric on judges. That is, in our view, completely inappropriate.

In an editorial, “Good Judges Are More Important than Ever,” two lawyers, who served under Presidents Reagan and H.W. Bush, make the absurd argument that our courts are irresponsibly inserting themselves into military and defense policy. This argument has been made before. In fact, every time the courts reject the president’s claims of unfettered executive power, conservatives cry foul, claiming that judges are improperly usurping the president’s authority. In truth, it is the president that has improperly tossed aside the Constitution.

According to today’s editorial, the recent Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush struck a heavy blow to the president and Congress’ ability to keep our citizens safe from barbaric terrorists. Of course, anyone familiar with the case knows that this assertion is completely without merit. The decision simply stated that the United States government cannot hold a person, without charge indefinitely without providing them even the most basic means to challenge his or her detention.

The piece also accuses the Court’s justices of “invalidat[ing] a careful compromise on detainee rights adopted by Congress and the president in the 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA).” This argument is so disingenuous it’s almost offensive. The MCA was hardly a thoughtful bipartisan compromise, but rather a hurried piece of legislation pushed through Congress before Republicans lost control of the House following the midterm elections.

The Bush administration and its allies in Congress have used the War on Terror as a pretense for countless abuses of power. Alliance for Justice would like to suggest that in stead of taking advantage of this sad day to push an agenda, we as a country remember that tragic morning and consider just how much of ourselves we’re prepared to cede to those who would do us harm. As Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, our “laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.” Let us remember that on this tragic anniversary.

To learn the truth about the Boumediene decision, see our fact sheet here.

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