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Category: Courts
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Blackstone's Formulation:

better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer

Even in what many seem to consider a "Bush-controlled, neo-fascist America," we are blessed with a remarkable justice system.

As we speak, the case of Ali al-Marri weaves its way through the American legal process, addressing some of the most crucial issues inherent within the war on terror. The Bush administration currently holds non-citizen (but legal resident), Al-Marri, in military custody as a suspected enemy combatant. According to the executive, Al-Marri's alleged ties to al-Qaida make him a threat to national security.

Today the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia hears arguments on whether Al-Marri should be charged or released from federal confinement. In June, a three-judge panel of the court ruled 2-1 that even under the Military Commissions Act, legislation passed in 2006 to establish military trials, Ali al-Marri retains the right to trial. The government sees it differently and asked for the rehearing, and a ruling is expected in several weeks.

No matter which way the circuit court rules on this case, it is a near certainty that the Supreme Court will eventually rule on the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act, which will ultimately determine the fate of al-Marri.

The wheels of American justice are turning.

Over at the Supreme Court yesterday, at least five justices agreed to stay the impending execution of Earl W. Berry, who, over the course of nineteen years, had exhausted all his appeals and was on death row in Mississippi and awaiting execution that very evening.

Ironically, Berry, who had brutally beaten to death a 56-year-old woman whom he had kidnapped as she was walking home from choir practice in 1988, argued most recently that Mississippi's system for execution, death by lethal injection, was cruel and unusual punishment.

This case also is part of a larger web of impending cases linked to a future Court decision; in this instance, the issue is the constitutionality of lethal injection.

The wheels of American justice are turning.
Category: Courts
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
1 October 2007

This morning, in celebration of the First Monday in October, traditional opening day of the Supreme Court season, C-SPAN's Washington Journal featured a discussion of the Court's docket with LA Times court reporter, David Savage.

For the most part, Mr. Savage proved perfectly pleasant and informative.

A few moments, however, proved worthy of a raised eyebrow:

1. He echoed the increasingly ubiquitous praise of Justice John Paul Stevens. This will be a theme of the session. I will have more on this phenomenon coming soon.

2. He also reflected the obligatory dismissiveness of Clarence Thomas. Savage generously called his personal story "heartwarming," but he wondered why he is still so angry over the events of 1991. Savage also observed that Thomas often takes on a "woe is me" attitude, intent on dwelling on that trying period in his life.

Two humorous moments:

In response to a clip from 60 Minutes in which Thomas railed against political leaders in the black community intolerant of dissenting opinions, Savage seemed absolutely perplexed that there might be a party line for African Americans or a so-called black gospel.

Savage: "I am not at all sure what he is talking about."

The Times reporter went on: "He seems to be saying that people dislike him for being an independent thinker. I don't know anybody who is against independent thinking."

I think Savage means I don't know anyone who is against independent thinking as long as they think independently along the same lines as I do.

That is, I am wondering how many fellows in the LA Times newsroom are big supporters of the war in Iraq--or consider Ronald Reagan to be the best president of their lifetime.

One other funny thing:

Asked about this upcoming memoir that Thomas is promoting, Savage again went blank, racking his brain for anything remotely like this in the history of the court and then finally pronouncing the memoir completely unprecedented.

A few callers later Savage was forced into admitting that the Sandra Day O'Connor memoir was somewhat similar to Thomas's memoir--but merely in the sense that it too was a memoir.