The other countdown to June 30

Eyes are focused on the transition to Iraqi authority on June 30. That date has additional significance for the nation and perhaps the election.

Traditionally, the U.S. Supreme Court goes into recess June 30 and tries to issue opinions in submitted cases by then. As of this posting, 12 cases remain for decision. Three directly affect the type of country Bush can create.

They are:

  • Rasul v. Bush, which raises the issue of whether foreign nationals held at Guantanamo can challenge their detention in the US Courts.

  • Rumsfeld v. Padilla, which raises the issues surrounding the president’s authority to declare Padilla, a US citizen detained on US soil, an “enemy combatant” and, thus, not entitled to normal due process rights.
  • Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, involving the detention of a US citizen captured in Afghanistan and also declared an enemy combatant.

Whether the recent torture disclosures and that political battle will impact these decisions is certainly open to question. I also wonder, given the recent pledge decision, if they will seek grounds to evade the core issues. What is certain is that the countdown to June 30 may be extremely crucial for civil liberties jurisprudence.

(And we should not overlook Cheney v. U.S. District Court, which raises the issue of whether executive privilege allows the Bush administration to withhold from court-ordered discovery documents of an energy advisory committee headed by Cheney with extensive involvement of the private sector. So secrecy also remains on the docket.)

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