Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The Supreme Court's recent decision regarding the right to habeas corpus by those designated "enemy combatants" has been the subject of heated and extensive debate. I have no intention of discussing the merits, but rather wish to focus on the disappointing use of the phrase "unelected, politically unaccountable judges" by the Chief Justice in his dissent criticizing the majority opinion. That language comes right out of the conservative-Republican playbook. It is code for "liberal activist" judges.

Every decision by a federal court is rendered by "unelected, politically unaccountable judges", a principle embedded and cherished in the Constitution. There are many meritorious arguments against the extension of habeas writs to enemy combatants, but why demean the Court in the process with the use of this old saw, particularly by the Chief Justice himself. It is vital that the public respects the decisions of the Court even it it disagrees with them. The Chief Justice should engender that respect, not demean it.