An Aug. 9 AP story (online at TruthOut) reveals that Judge John G. Roberts Jr., President Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court, was on a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that ruled last month to allow military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. Lawyers for one detainee have now appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was allegedly Osama bin Laden’s driver in Afghanistan, said the appeals panel had rejected longstanding constitutional and international law. “Its decision vests the president with the ability to circumvent the federal courts and time-tested limits on the executive,” wrote Neal K. Katyal, a law professor at Georgetown University. “No decision, by any court, in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has gone this far.”
A lower court judge ruled against the government, but the panel overruled him. The appeals court held that the 1949 Geneva Conventions governing treatment of prisoners of war does not apply to accused al-Qaeda members. The ruling was handed down shortly before Judge Roberts was nominated for the Supreme Court, to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
See our last post on the ongoing torture scandal.