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December 18, 2003

Padilla- Equality under the Law

This is a wonderful decision by the 9th Circuit that Guantanomo detainees must have a right to lawyers and the court system.

As well, the 2nd Circuit said that Jose Padilla, the "dirty bomber" suspect as an American citizen could not be held as an "enemy combatant."

These decisions should have been obvious. I am obviously a constitutional minimalist, but equality under the law, the right to have your situation evaluated by a court, is the basic part of our democracy.

Actually, to the extent that the issue is the right to a jury trial, its all part of basic democratic norms, since the jury is in many ways the micro extension to an individual case of democratic decision-making write large.

Laws should almost never be struck down in toto by judges, but that is a completely different issue from intervention by the courts in individual cases-- the public passing a law may have had all the facts needed to judge its constitutionality, but the idea of individual justice is that it takes a jury of ones peers to decide whether the law in question applies to your individual case.

Take away access to the courts and that it lost.

Posted by Nathan at December 18, 2003 05:59 PM