McCain called Friday’s ruling “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” Now, other people have probably had this same thought, but it’s worth articulating here: Really? One of the worst? I mean, I love this country and all but our Supreme Court has pulled some real boners over the years… I dunno, off of the top of my head, Dred Scott? Plessy v. Ferguson? The case that gave cover for the Japanese internment camps (Korematsu v. United States, for you history buffs)? I’d add, from my perspective, Bush v. Gore, but even judging from McCain’s stated views, surely, Roe v. Wade is right up there…
In any case, as Michael notes, what’s perhaps more remarkable about McCain’s statement is how different it is from his rather understated response Thursday:
“It obviously concerns me . . . but it is a decision the Supreme Court has made. Now we need to move forward. As you know, I always favored closing of Guantánamo Bay and I still think that we ought to do that.”
I wish I knew if this, well, let’s say intensification of his opinion was a result of stewing over the decision — which did, after all, take aim at the Military Commissions Act that he helped birth — or if it’s a campaign maneuver. In the end, I guess it doesn’t matter; on Thursday, I thought, “Okay, here’s a guy who personally disagrees with the decision but accepts, you know, our Constitutional balance of powers.” On Friday, he was yelling to get off his lawn.
UPDATE: I really don’t know the answer to this, but I’m curious what others think: If Bush had/declared the detainees to be POWs to begin with, would we have arrived at this position?
UPDATE: I think this is a related thought, and one I’d been wondering about, brought up by BrooklynGurl: “Truly, what is the constitutional basis for granting habeas corpus rights to individuals captured in war?” In other words: The administration created this category called “unlawful combatants” to avoid having to obey existing treaties covering POWs, which — understandably — led to abuses of the system, lawsuits, and protests. Okay, what if they had been protected, from the very start, by the Geneva Conventions, etc. — but without a recognized right to habeas corpus. Would they have ever gotten it? Would any cases brought have gotten this far?