Monday, April 03, 2006

SCOTUS rejects Padilla appeal

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, who has been trying to challenge being jailed without charge for three years.

So on the surface, the Bush administration's legal strategy -- charge Padilla with crimes *other* than the ones they used to justify his detention, in order to avoid Supreme Court review -- has worked.

But the details provide reason for hope -- and illustrate why the government was so eager to keep the case away from the Supreme Court.

Three justices said the court should have agreed to take up the case anyway: Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

And three other court members, including Chief Justice John Roberts, said that they would be watching to ensure Padilla receives the protections "guaranteed to all federal criminal defendants."

The other two justices were Kennedy and Stevens. That pretty much serves notice that the government would have had tough sailing in defending its practices before the Court.

It also demonstrates that the Court now has a three-justice conservative bloc whose votes are dogmatically predictable: Scalia, Thomas and now Alito.

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