Jose Padilla and the Supreme Court
By now everyone has heard that "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla is no longer being held as an enemy combatant; he has been released to civil authorities to be charged with conspiracy to kill American's overseas. (No mention is made of the alleged dirty bomb that has become synonmous with Padilla's name.)
One can't help but wonder how the government can swear up and down for three years that this man is an enemy combatant and should have no rights to meet with his legal representation, to be charged and see, or even worse, challenge, the evidence against him, to ask for bail or judicial review, and then just decide to reverse their decision. So, what...they were wrong these past three years?? They made a mistake that cost him three years of his life? What if they hadn't changed their minds? Without any judicial review or process by which an "enemy combatant" can challenge his or her status, it's totally conceivable that they could have held a potentially innocent man for dozens of years. The case of Captain Yee comes to mind...
Many commentators are speculating the sudden swing had to do with the government's fears that they would lose a Supreme Court case designed to test the government's power to strip away rights guaranteed in the constitution from an American citizen.
"Today's move is an attempt to take this action away from the Supreme Court so that the [government] can continue to exercise these powers, maybe not against Padilla but against other Americans in the next few years," said Timothy Lynch, director of the Cato Institute's Project on Criminal Justice. "They saw this case moving to the Supreme Court and, in my view, they came to the conclusion that the Supreme Court was going to reject this theory and say that these powers the president was asserting are illegal and violate the bill of rights."
One hopes the move fails, and that the Supreme Court delivers their verdict which was expected at the end of next week. Certainly the government's glib flip-flopping on Padilla's status ought to give the Court plenty of reason to issue a verdict, especially if it was going to rule that the government does not have the power to strip citizens of their due process rights.
A full write up can be found at: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1132653917855