July 7, 2006


The high court's Hamdan power grab (John Yoo, July 7, 2006, LA Times)

The court's decision in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld ignores the basic workings of our separation of powers and will hamper the ability of future presidents to respond to emergencies with the forcefulness and vision of a Lincoln or an FDR.

Long-standing U.S. practice recognizes that the president, as commander in chief, plays the leading role in wartime. Presidents have started wars without congressional authorization, and they have exercised complete control over military strategy and tactics. They can act with a speed, unity and secrecy that the other branches of government cannot match. By contrast, legislatures are large, diffuse and slow. Their collective design may make them better for deliberating over policy, but at the cost of delay and lack of resolve. [...]

Congress has an important role but one exaggerated by critics of the war on terrorism. It could easily have blocked any aspect of the administration's terrorism policies simply by removing funding or political support. It could have closed Guantanamo Bay in a day, if it wished. Instead, it authorized the president to use all necessary and appropriate force against any individual, organization or state connected to the 9/11 attacks. Then, following past practices, it sat back and let the president handle the details and assume the political risks. Critics seem to believe that Bush's policies are at odds with the Republican Congress. They are not.

What makes this war different is not that the president acted while Congress watched but that the Supreme Court interfered while fighting was ongoing.

As a matter of constitutional principle it would be best for the Executive to simply ignore the Court's decision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 7, 2006 3:05 PM

Orrin, you are exactly right! Why did Pres. Bush agree in advance to abide by the decision? What was basis for him to do that? This ruling,if allowed to stand unchallenged, will haunt the Executive branch for years to come.

Posted by: Tom Wall at July 7, 2006 4:48 PM

Although OJ is right in this case, the people demand that the President follow the Supreme Court.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 7, 2006 4:50 PM



Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 5:08 PM

The fact is that Bush isn't articulate enough to explain the reasons for ignoring the court. Further, the people aren't really interested enough in policy to engage the brain long enough to listen to any articulation.

Hence, the president is batted around by forces that he should be able to control, but can't.

This is why he's polling so low. Gas prices, Katrina, Iraq, the WORI (War on Radical Islam) are all items that a Blair or Clinton could do a better job of managing.

But then, who would be listening.

Quick, more bread, more circuses!!

Posted by: Bruno at July 7, 2006 5:10 PM

The legal elite have decided that we need another attack before agreeing that fighting a war is the proper way to take on the Islamicists.

Once that attack comes, they'll do what needs to be done.

Posted by: Pepys at July 7, 2006 5:10 PM

Explain? Just ignore them.

Read the speeches. He's the most articulate president we've ever had at explaining his beliefs.

Posted by: oj at July 7, 2006 5:16 PM

This is an issue where I would love to know what Bruno's listeners think. I suspect that any serious debate about ignoring the Supreme Court puts us on the very fringes of US politics.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 7, 2006 6:07 PM

This is all well and good. I cannot state this too strongly. The significance of Hamden is the dictum suggesting acceptance of the axis of weasels interpretation of privileged belligerency.

We consider alQaeda, the Baathist "insurgents" and the Palestinian terrorists to be either bandits or members of criminal organizations. Most of the rest of the world does not, and would grant them the rights of lawful combatants.

What is going on here is intentional manipulation of so-called international law to act as a check on the World Goverment, on the cheap, as it were. The weasels do not need to arm themselves, they hope, they need only legislate assymetrical warfare: bandits are legal, the would say, airpower is not.

This is a serious problem: ICC prosecutions, and impeachment proceedings are threatened.

I suggest that we should proceed vigorously against all war criminals in custody, placing these issues in the public consciousness.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 7, 2006 6:26 PM