Monthly Archives: February 2007

Testing the Military Commissions Act: Hamdan and Khadr REDUX

SCOTUSblog posts on two important new tests of the Military Commissions Act’s viablity and constitutionality. Two men held by the US military, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemini, and Omar Khadr, a Canadian, filed a combined appeal with the Supreme Court, of two lower court rulings holding that they, as “Detainees,” had lost the right to challenge their detention. No docket number as assigned yet, but the case name is Hamdan v. Gates/Khadr v. Bush.

Both men raise this as their initial question: “Do individuals detained as alleged enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba have access to habeas corpus under the Constitution or by statute?”

In both men’s cases, the answer from the courts thus far has been “no.” As to their current pleading before the Supreme Court:

[T]heir petition also poses these two added questions: [(1)] Is the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which purports to strip federal courts of habeas jurisdiction with respect to Guantanamo Bay detainees, unconstitutional because it violates separation of powers, the Bill of Attainder Clause, and Equal Protection guarantees? [(2)] Even if the MCA validly withdraws habeas jurisdiction over petitions filed by individuals detained as alleged enemy combatants, are the petitioners in this case who are facing criminal prosecution before military tribunals – and sentences of life imprisonment and death – nevertheless protected by fundamental rights secured by the Constitution, including the right to challenge the jurisdiction of such a tribunal via the writ of habeas corpus?”

As you likely know, the 2006 Military Commissions Act (MCA) incorporated a “habeas stripping” provision that prevents the detainees from petitioning for habeas corpus with federal courts. They’re challenging the constitutionality of the MCA, and the result is the subject of much interest. After Hamdan v. Rumsfeld through the Military Commissions process into a freefall, Congress sidled up with the Administration, pulled the MCA out of its hat, and the Administration produced the Manual for Military Commissions, a 500-odd page manual covering procedure, rules of evidence, and the rest of the commissisons process. Now that the process has started, the challenges begin.

The Hamdan part of the petition is a plea to have the Court take on his case without waiting for the D.C. Circuit to rule on an appeal he has pending there to challenge a U.S. District Court ruling last Dec. 13. Khadr is an appeal from the D.C. Circuit’s ruling on Feb. 20.

Habeas has a long and complex history that pre-dates the Constitution. Whether it may, or may not, be waived as to these “detainees,” will be an important decision for the Court–if they take up the petition for cert. More history on habeas later, if time permits.

Read the entire story at SCOTUSblog

Lime

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Chief Justice John Roberts’ advice: Oral Argument Without the Proverbial Foot in the Mouth

Earlier this month, Chief Justice John Roberts had some sage advice for aspiring appellate attorneys–nay, for all attorneys. Be humble, admit you might be wrong, and challenge yourself in front of the court. If you’re saying that your client is “clearly right,” then likely oral argument wouldn’t have been granted in the first place. It’s a good read:

“You don’t see it very often and it can obviously be risky, but for somebody to get up and say, ‘The biggest argument against us is’ whatever, ‘this precedent that you decided six years ago, and if you were going to follow it down the line, my client should probably lose. Here’s why I think you shouldn’t follow it in this case.’ ” He added: “I think that type of an approach could be very effective.”

Chief Justice Counsels Humility – washingtonpost.com

Lime

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The Kite Runner: in Photos

For those of you who’ve read and loved The Kite Runner, as I have, here’s a pictoral essay in Wired about kiterunning. Note the bandaged finger–yes, the glass-encrusted or wire strings cut the fingers, and that’s really what it’s all about. Read the essay and, if you haven’t already, run out and get a copy of The Kite Runner. Having been to Afghanistan, I can tell you that Khaled Hosseini’s’s description of Kabul is spot-on. I’ve been in some of the houses Hossaini describes, which makes the book all the more real and tragic. A beautiful people, the Afghans. Lime

Killer Kites (bttp://blog.wired.com/wiredphotos50)


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American Law in Pictures!

Our Judicial System | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

Check this out. I especially like the one about the lawyer making a good argument to his friends for the nachos. I’d never argue for the nachos.

Lime

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Trompe d’Oeil: Exhibit I

Transparent Screen – felipemusica on Flickr – Photo Sharing!

Almost forgot to share one with you.

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Trompe d’Oeil LCD Monitors?

w00kie’s slideshow on Flickr

Take a look. A little more than pure pabulum, I’d say it qualifies as “cool beans.”

Out.

Lime

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ReadyBoost Compatibility Chart

ReadyBoost Compatibility Chart

For all of you smart enough–or not risk averse enough–to take the plunge into Windows Vista, read on. Vista is lovely. It’s elegant. And, through a smart tweak, you can now use SD, CF, Mini-SD cards, and USB flash memory sticks to give your system a speed boost. The recommended ratio of USB flash memory to your computer’s internally installed system RAM is at least 1:1, while you may get even more of a benefit of 2:1.

My tests have borne this out. I have 2 gig RAM installed, and at first tried a 1 gig USB stick. Worked, but it dragged and the benefit wasn’t palpable. I’m now using a SanDisk Cruiser Micro 2 gig, and it works brilliantly. Much snappier performance.

Bottom line is, the USB drive caches frequently used information, including frequently loaded programs, caches of webpages, etc, so that they can in short bursts be pulled up quickly from the stick, rather than your hard drive having to search for the programs on the hard drive.

Requirement is, however, that the memory on your USB drive be of sufficient speed to do your system any good. Vista tests the USB stick (or CF card, SD card, etc) when you first install it, and determines whether the stick is compatible. For example, the $16.00 MicroCenter 2 gig USB drive does not work.  Often this is because either all the flash memory on the stick has a too-slow transfer speed, or because the stick mixes and matches high and low speed flash memory.

Link here leads you to a site that’s tested multiple USB drives for ReadyBoost Compatibility. Good site–buy a USB stick and speed up your system. (And remember: though more expensive, you’ll get the best benefit from simply installing more internal RAM.)

Lime

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