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Justice Scalia Sounds Off And Angers Many

Headlines along the lines of Justice Scalia voicing his opinion that detainees have no rights, has caused a furor and worldwide windstorm of criticism of the U.S. justice system. It is understandable that Justice Scalia is angry, as he's had the sad and trying experience of having a child serving in the army shot at by enemies during war. Therefore, I'm not dissing him, as I can see what is driving this. He is an angry father, but we must remember the fairness of the process of justice.

The Geneva Convention states everyone has rights. We are no better than the enemy if we flinch in what is right and fair in the pursuit of justice. This goes for every country. We must afford each person a proper trial. If we act as they do, disregarding people's rights and putting them to death, as they have done in acts of murder and terrorism, we are essentially no better than they are.

If a proper trial successfully proves that a person is guilty of a crime (terrorism or otherwise) then the appropriate punishment should be handed down. I am a firm believer that if someone commits a crime, a skilled litigator and investigative team who are thorough and diligent will put together a solid, winnable case (I dunno, maybe I watched too much Matlock as a kid).

You have to show equity in the pursuit of justice or it will cause people, both domestically and internationally, to question one's country's integrity (and once again, that goes for every country) as was done below in the following article excerpts:

"Justices' interpretations and the Constitution - March, 25 2006 - It seems to me the old saying, "being beaten within an inch of your life" takes on a whole new meaning under Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's interpretation of prosecuting domestic violence offenders.

Beaten nearly to death and you've got to face your accuser in court, testify against him and maybe even go home to sleep in the same bed with him. Die from being abused and the state has a much easier time prosecuting it; the accused gets tried with whatever evidence is available (911 recordings, blood spatter, the whole nine yards). From the state's point of view, the victim is better off dead. Is that what the founding fathers intended? – The L.A. Times

"US high court judge said to slam detainee rights. US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the idea that Guantanamo detainees have rights" - Reuters UK

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the idea that Guantanamo detainees have constitutional rights and called European concerns over the issue hypocritical, Newsweek magazine reported on Sunday....

"War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Scalia said in the talk at the University of Freiburg, according to Newsweek. "Give me a break."

Court officials were not immediately available for comment.

Ethics experts said the impression that Scalia had already made up his mind before the hearing should mean that he will voluntarily drop out of the proceedings. However, Newsweek said he did not refer specifically to this week's case.

"He should remove himself when there is a reasonable doubt of his impartiality," said Father Robert Drinan, a professor of law at Georgetown University and long-standing human rights campaigner, who teaches judicial ethics.

"It should logically be a reason for his recusal but I don't think he'll do it ... he's so stubborn" said Drinan.

'IT'S CRAZY' - "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs. I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it's crazy," he said. Scalia's son Matthew served with the U.S. Army in Iraq.

Newsweek said it had reviewed a recording of the talk. It said Scalia added that he was "astounded" at "hypocritical" reaction in Europe to the Guantanamo prison.

Chief Justice John Roberts has recused himself from the hearing because he ruled on the case while he was on a federal appeals court. Scalia has previously recused himself from a case -- one involving the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag -- after making public remarks on it.

"A judge has to have an open mind; when he hears the articles and reacts to briefs. If he's made up his mind on a particular issue, he shouldn't be sitting (in)," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

"Here he has publicly said that this is what my position is, before the arguments ... It's really stacking the deck," Ratner said. CCR has argued for Guantanamo prisoner rights." - Reuters US

US judge says Guantanamo inmates have 'no rights' - A US Supreme Court judge has ridiculed legal claims by detainees of Guantanamo Bay as "crazy" in a tape recording of a lecture obtained by the American magazine Newsweek.

The comments attributed to Judge Antonin Scalia were published a day before the Supreme Court begins hearing a challenge to the legality of special military tribunals for suspects held at the US prison camp in Cuba.

The case, brought by Osama bin Laden's driver, is the greatest challenge yet to President Bush’s powers to detain and try terrorist suspects.

"War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts," Judge Scalia said, during a talk on March 8 at the University of Freiburg in Switzerland, according to Newsweek.

"Foreigners, in foreign countries, have no rights under the American Constitution... Nobody has ever thought otherwise."

Judge Scalia said that if a foreign combatant was captured by the US army on a battlefield, as prison camp was where he belonged.

"I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I’m not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean it’s crazy." The conservative judge’s son, Matthew, fought in the Iraq war.

Judge Scalia also said he was "astounded" at the hypocritical reaction to the Guantanamo camp in Europe.

Some legal experts said that the comments could be a reason for Judge Scalia to withdraw from hearing the case of Salim Ahmed Hamdan - who was Bin Laden’s driver from 1996 to 2001 - in which he is arguing that the US administration does not have the constitutional right to order special military trials.

The case may also examine the extent to which the Geneva Conventions protect Guantanamo detainees.

Last summer the Supreme Court, whose decisions must be followed by the US Government, dealt a defeat to President Bush when it ruled, 6-3, that Guantanamo prisoners could challenge their incarceration as “enemy combatants” in US courts.

Foreign governments, including Downing Street, have criticised the tribunals as fundamentally unfair because the prisoners have no rights under the Geneva Conventions and limited rights as defendants. - The Times UK 

“Somebody call Jim Badami  

Just joking with that headline. Though Badami's Judicial Discipline agency can mount investigations of Arkansas judges if they, for example, talk about racism at the University of Arkansas, it doesn't have any jurisdiction over U.S. Supreme Court judges who make pointed comments about cases pending before them. Too bad somebody can't do something. From the Wall Street Journal today: - Arkansas Times

Comments and Responses:

Does this qualify him as an "activist judge?" He should resign. Posted : bye bye I wish 3/27/2006   

So, Scalia has a problem with Breyer's familiarity with International law, yet when it comes to decision time, it's OK to take the matter personally?

Spoken like a true strict constructionist... Posted : TMD 3/27/2006  



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