April 4th, 2006

 Supreme Court Won’t Look at Unchecked Presidential Power Question

American citizen José Padilla has been incarcerated since May 8, 2002 after being arrested for suspected involvement in a “dirty bomb” plot. For two years, he was held in military custody without being charged with any crimes, and he was not allowed to speak with family members or an attorney.

Appeals to the courts — first in New York, and then in South Carolina — only allowed the government time to maneuver Padilla out of the military system and into the federal system on charges that made no mention of the reasons he was originally arrested for. Padilla’s attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court for relief.


In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court has rejected a petition to hear his case, with three justices citing the fact that he was no longer in military custody and therefor the petition was moot. Disappointing as this development may be, the Supreme Court appears to have ruled along the letter of the law.

While *I* believe Padilla’s right to a speedy trial and the impediment of his liberty has been seriously breached by the government detaining him for nearly four years and that the Supreme Court SHOULD be hearing this case, I get the impression that a Bush-friendly court is making it very clear that the government needs to play by the rules. They have only sidestepped the issue by shifting to civilian court at the last minute.

Three–Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice John Paul Stevens–issued a statement explaining they had rejected the case because Padilla is no longer held by the military . . . .

His case “raises fundamental issues respecting the separation of powers” and that “counsels against addressing those claims when the course of legal proceedings has made them, at least for now, hypothetical,” they said.

Still, Kennedy warned that Padilla has a “continuing concern” that the president might designate him an enemy combatant if he is acquitted. The three justices warned the administration that the federal courts stand ready to intervene “were the government to seek to change the status or conditions of Padilla’s custody.”


Many civil libertarians grow increasingly concerned over the direction of this case. One fear, as discussed by Justice Ginsberg — one of three justices who voted to hear the case — is that “Nothing prevents the government from switching course and returning Padilla to the brig . . . .” With Justices Kennedy, Roberts and Stevens issuing such a stern warning, it is hoped that Padilla’s trial will commence quickly.

Will the Supreme Court ever hear arguments as to whether the President has the power to detain American citizens indefinitely or is José Padilla an isolated incident that won’t happen again?


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Posted in Politics



1 Comment(s)

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  1. 4Truth Says :

    “Three–Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice John Paul Stevens–issued a statement explaining they had rejected the case because Padilla is no longer held by the military…”

    Play Political Nuances rather then the LAW.

     Still, Kennedy warned that Padilla has a “continuing concern” that the president might designate him an enemy combatant if he is acquitted.

    BUSH can make you an enemy of the state JUST by saying so?

    9/11 - Pearl Harbor - Alamo - BUSH takes advantage of a tradegy to further his BUSH papers.  BUSH even lied about WMD, Novack told reporters to ask BUSH about the CIA agent leak. BUSH tricked the USA people to go to war & tried to punish an ambassador for trying to stop him.



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