Close votes show the pressure of politics
US Supreme Court -- Not a place to court democracy
The recent vote of the nine highest justices may have turned the tide of creeping fascism, the political disease that war brings – but it was close. We trim and blend a 2008 news story and commentary.
by Ben TanosbornJJS: War is not just death and destruction. It’s also graft and corruption. Iraq is no different, maybe worse. Kickbacks shaped the war's largest troop support contract months before the first wave of US soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand. The theft from the public treasury continued well beyond the 2004 congressional hearings that first called attention to it. And the massive fraud endangered the health of American soldiers. With prostitutes and Super bowl tickets, subcontractors bribed Army officers and managers of the supervising contractor, KBR, the giant defense firm that charged $45 per can of soda. KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, has been paid $28 billion. The dollar value of Army contracts quadrupled from $23.3 billion in 1992 to $100.6 billion in 2006. But the number of Army overseers was cut from 10,000 in 1990 to 5,500 currently. (The Chicago Tribune, February 21)
Stealing tax dollars is matched by abandoning Constitutional rights.
Tanosborn: Ours government is described as a democracy thanks to its system of checks and balances between its three branches.
Poppycock, I say! We are a yea or a nay away from one solitary individual determining our future, which makes us no different from monarchs of old and dictators of today.
“A victory for democracy” say some, after the US Supreme Court extended habeas corpus to the detainees in Guantanamo. But a squeaky one, as the decision was 5 to 4 vote. If just one of the five had bad day with the mate, he could have voted the other way.
To me that is scary… as scary as having B-2 bombers circumnavigating the globe with WMD’s… and a possible psychopath in the White House with his thumb beside that “drop‘em bombs” button.
That close vote is no aberration. Since 1989, in 17 of 22 landmark decision the decisions were made in 5 to 4 votes, regarding Privacy, Religion, Equal Protection, Free Speech, Drug Search, Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Takings, and Powers of Congress. Of the other 5 cases, 3 received what may be considered a consensus vote, and 2 a mixed vote.
A decision dealing with basic principles of human rights and dignity, such as the right of habeas corpus for the prisoners held at Guantanamo, would call for unanimity in any international court… 9 to 0 should have been the decision, not a political 5 to 4 confrontation of center versus right! But we don’t believe in international law, and scoff at the mere idea of abiding by anything the International Court of Justice at The Hague might say. In fact, the US will participate with world judicial bodies as long as that participation serves our needs… not justice.
For four decades starting after World War II, the US accepted the International Court of Justice until 1986 when an unfavorable ruling was given (over the mining of Nicaragua’s harbors – remember the Iran-Contra fiasco?). Then the US withdrew from the court’s general jurisdiction. Three years ago, over the “optional protocol”, it withdrew again. As law professor Peter Spiro of the University of Georgia said, “It’s a sore-loser kind of move. If we can’t win, we’re not going to play.”
Is the Constitution of the United States so ambivalent as to create this division down the middle in the way decisions are rendered? One would not think so. Perhaps the structure of the Supreme Court, in every aspect, needs being looked into; and reformed, if we wish to have it as an independent branch of government, as well as a judicious collaborator in matters of international law… in contrast to the Executive Branch. For now, our checks and balances dictum is in practice nothing but great-sounding spattering of empty words.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
You don't want waste. So why do you pay for it?
Habeas That Corpus
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