Friday, 13 June 2008

Who's up for a principle?

The Supreme Court in a 5 to 4 vote said Monday that U.S. presidents are not yet kings and that those imprisoned by the state are still protected by habeas corpus.

The Bush-appointed dissenting justices went apoplectic and rehashed the favorite White House line (crafted and perfected by the now semi-repentant Scott McClellan) that the decision will ‘lead to more deaths of Americans.’

What an argument. Yes, my dear wackos, protecting human rights and judicial procedure sometimes lets people off the hook when they’re guilty as hell. Some of those people then commit new crimes. So what? Should we just hang anyone who looks guilty of something and be done with it? Plenty of people would applaud if we did—that’s why we have laws, to frustrate the revenge of the comfortable.

It’s amazing that not just average folks worried about their safety but black-robed jurists with law degrees can toss the whole structure of protections built up over centuries into the trash bin without blinking an eye. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking that only the bad old Republicans are conniving at this process. I don’t recall any particularly tough questions about detainee rights being put to Justices Roberts and Alito by our Democratic brethren, who could have blocked the confirmation process of these royalist lapdogs but feared above all else looking like bin Laden-symps.

Despite the political impopularity of protecting the rights of the accused, our judiciary has triumphed over the political winds of the moment. When the nation recovers its mental equilibrium and considers how close it came to voting itself into a police state, it will recall with pride the day its top court—NOT it’s legislative ‘opposition’—restored it to sanity.

Meanwhile, do notice the complete reversal of roles across the pond where the Conservatives (yes, the Tory party of Margaret Thatcher) is digging in its heels against Labor’s attempt to allow ‘terrorist suspects’ to be jailed for 42 days without a hearing. One right-wing parliamentarian, David Davis, even resigned his seat to force a by-election precisely on this issue, saying Gordon Brown’s new rule threatened Britons’ cherished freedom. (It passed anyway by a narrow margin.)

Just listen to the ringing denunciation of the Labor move from this fox-hunting toff and ask yourself if you’ve heard anything comparable from the party of Obama and Clinton:

This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta, a document that guarantees the fundamental element of British freedom, habeas corpus. The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason. But yesterday this house allowed the state to lock up potentially innocent citizens for up to six weeks without charge.

This cannot go on, it must be stopped, and for that reason today I feel it is incumbent on me to take a stand.

I will be resigning my membership of this House, and I intend to force a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden. I will
not fight it on the Government’s general record.

I won’t fight it on my personal record.

I will fight it, and I will argue this by-election against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this Government.

Sounds just like Jim Webb or Amy Klobuchar, doesn’t it?

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