The Supreme Court has ruled that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the U.S. Constitution to challenge their detention in civilian courts.
The justices, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday (.pdf), handed the Bush administration its third setback at the high court since 2004 over its treatment of prisoners who are being held indefinitely and without charges at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
"We hold these petitioners do have the habeas corpus privilege," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court majority in the 70-page opinion.
He said that Congress had failed to create an adequate alternative for the prisoners held at the U.S. military base in Cuba to contest their detention.
Not surprisingly, Roberts, Scalia, Alito and Thomas were the dissenting opinions. In Scalia's dissent, he wrote:
"...it sets our military commanders the impossible task of proving to a civilian court, under whatever standards this Court devises in the future, that evidence supports the confinement of each and every enemy prisoner. The Nation will live to regret what the Court has done today."
It’s chilling that the case was decided on a single vote, 5-4. One more Bush Justice on the Court, and the decision would likely have gone the other way. That’s why it’s so important for Americans to realize that in this election year, the Supreme Court is on the ballot. John McCain has already promised the GOP that he would nominate Justices to the Court exactly like those Bush has brought to the bench. This year, we must reverse the tide, and begin to restore a Supreme Court that upholds our individual rights and the laws that keep us free.