In a landmark decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay have the right to habeas corpus, the right to challenge their indefinite detention in federal court. Remember the context: more than half of the men imprisoned here are not accused of taking part in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners. The majority were captured by reward-seeking Pakistanis and Afghan warlords and by villagers of highly doubtful reliability.
This is a victory for human rights and human dignity. The detainees can now force the government to present evidence against them– evidence that in all likelihood is not there for many if not most. But not in the eyes of four Catholic justices– Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas. That’s right, they dissented again.
Here’s what Roberts had to say: “I believe the system the political branches constructed adequately protects any constitutional rights aliens captured abroad and detained as enemy combatants may enjoy.” Nice, chief. These “aliens” are human beings created in the image and likeness of God with the same rights as you. Rights under the natural law are not contingent on what passport you hold. Like Roe v. Wade, this is a shocking instance of a Hobbesian social contractarian approach to law, whereby “aliens” are simply excluded from the remit of the contract.Scalia, who is already on record defending the intrinsically evil act of torture, is even worse: “America is at war with radical Islamists…[the decision] will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed.” For Scalia, its even simpler. It’s all about consequentialism– let the end justify the means so we can do what it takes to keep America safe. Even if it means locking people up in a military camp outside of the US and throwing away the key.
So the next time people talk about appointing judges to overturn Roe v. Wade.. I say be careful what you wish for.