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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Padilla Charged: Cert. or Moot?

I previously detailed the importance of habeas review during the Lindsey Graham legislation abomination. The recent charging of Jose Padilla brings the issue back to the forefront, along with a whole host of other constitutional questions: limitations of executive power, separation of powers, civil rights, and many more.

For those not familiar with the Padilla case, he is the American citizen who was picked up on "dirty bomb" charges, and who has been held in a military prison solely by order of the President for more than three years, due to his designation as an "enemy combatant," despite being a US citizen.

Both the WaPo and the NYTimes are reporting there is no mention of the "dirty bomb" plot for which he was first arrested in his indictment. (ABC's World Today has more from Padilla's attorney as well.)

Glenn Greenwald has an exceptional post up about this case, and it ought to be required reading for everyone. (Hat tip to reader "A" for bringing this to my attention. Many thanks!) The post is thought provoking, and well worth a full read -- especially given the magnitude of the issues.

The NYTimes further explores the Administration's failure to come up with a coherent, consistent policy for detainees, enemy combatants and pretty much everything else dealing with the clash of civil rights and detention issues after 9/11. These are very important questions that go to the heart of what sort of country we are -- and what sort of country we want to be. And we all ought to be asking them of ourselves and our elected officials.

We've been talking about these issues around the blogosphere for quite a while, certainly here at FDL. It's a good sign that this has hit the MSM in spades over the last few weeks (although perhaps more emblematic of the low Administration poll numbers and fretting among GOP members of Congress). Here's hoping this gets a lot more attention and serious thought in the weeks to come -- and some action that speaks a whole lot louder about our commitment to the human rights of everyone, not just people the GOP finds valuable in the moment.

But the big question in my mind at this point is whether or not the Supreme Court will dismiss cert. in the Padilla case, on the grounds that it is now moot. Will Chief Justice John Roberts and his fellow justices stand up for human rights -- and rule on the issue of a citizen as "enemy combatant" -- or the right of the Administration to continue to stamp on our long-held principles of civil rights? Stay tuned.

(Jeralyn has more at TalkLeft.)

(Painting by Johannes Vermeer, entitled Woman Holding a Balance, c. 1664.)