The strange and damaging decision released by the U.S. Supreme Court this week has a lot of people shaking their heads, but from one perspective it is a natural and predictable action. Ironically, most of the people involved mean well, but simply do not stop to consider the greater effect of their actions.
Let’s go back to that SCOTUS decision. The United States Supreme Court Justices who voted down the use of military tribunals at Guantanamo were not trying to aid Al Qaeda deliberately, nor were they opposed to the Guantanamo campo per se; they saw a situation in which they believed the United States needed to comply with international standards, specifically the Geneva Accords (although the high court ignored a number of specific articles of those same accords), even though this meant not only opposing the Bush Administration’s intentions, but also ignoring a recent law passed by Congress which specifically authorized military tribunals; it is telling that the Supreme Court did not even address this law, as if it were ignorant of it.
What is happening is a new initiative by some members of the High Court; the distinction to be understood here is not “Conservative” versus “Liberal”, nor even “pro-Bush” versus “anti-Bush”, though some Justices have clearly demonstrated such an emotional bias, but “Activist” versus “Restraint”. You see, even conservative judges sometimes feel a strong desire to change the law, to make things right, and this is very strong in the case of SCOTUS Justices; after all, they are the top of the law chain and so they feel that nothing will be done if they decide to stand still. In this case, the combination was of Liberal Activist Justices who opposed the precedent of military tribunals in wartime, matched with some Libertarian Activist Justices who believed that the Law exists on its own authority, and so the military should not be deciding the fate of non-military types.
It is obvious to the average American, that terrorists are not civilians by any reasonable definition. It is obvious to Americans that Al Qaeda is a group of individuals who obey the law of no nation, no people, and no faith. Islam, for example, does not condone the use of violence against other Muslims, against children or women, and especially not against known innocents. The claims made by Al Qaeda, therefore, constitute unacceptable acts by any standard. They pursue neither a valid military campaign nor actions in the jurisdiction of common law. This is by intent, preventing police and the military from nominal responses. As a result, any effective actions taken to oppose Al Qaeda would by definition be unique and anomalous from the normal doctrine. However, that does not make the actions illegal, unless they violate a specific restraint in the Constitution or in legislated acts by the Congress. The gist of the SCOTUS ruling, as some analysts have already observed, is that while damage has been done to the effort in the War on Terror, the President and Republicans will gain public support, as people will be reminded that not everyone is working for their interests and safety.
This raises the obvious question of why the Democrats would cheer the SCOTUS ruling, and it is answered by the sad confirmation that the Left would rather hurt America than see Bush gain approval. What started as a calculated means to weaken support for the President, has become a compulsive obsession even for Democratic leadership, so that anyone seeking high office as a Democrat finds themselves required to demonstrate a breach with both civility and rational evaluation. Democrats fool themselves by considering only selected Job Approval numbers, despite the relative inaccuracy of such numbers to historical success, and without consideration of the significant difference between Job Approval and personal appreciation. To put it another way, Democrats continue to act as if Bush were running for office, and as if he were an unknown quantity to be labeled for the public. In this error, Democrats not only spend energy unwisely on a man they cannot expect to diminish, but also display a pettiness which does not sit well with non-extremists. No Democrat yet has seriously evaluated the causes of Kerry’s defeat in 2004, nor any of the series of setbacks rendered by George W. Bush. Instead, the Democrats react emotionally and superficially, preferring a moment of angry petulance to more substantial gains which must be deferred to be had. In the matter of the Hamden decision, Democrats have taken a knife to their own hamstrings for future security considerations, just so they can enjoy needling President Bush. So, where the Supreme Court has acted in hopes of increasing their personal power, the Democrats have discovered a new variant – the SCOTUS seeks a rebalance in the separation of powers to its advantage, while Democrats seem willing to accept a more permanent separation from power, in order to pursue their vendetta against a select number of Republicans.