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Posted on 03/29/2006 4:47:30 PM PST by neverdem
Chief Justice John Roberts declined to participate in the U.S. Supreme Court hearing that yesterday took up the appeal of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who served as Osama Bin Laden's driver for five years. Roberts was forced to step aside because he had rendered an opinion on Hamdan's claims while sitting on a lower court.
Roberts' recusal was regrettable because his legal thinking was spot-on in upholding President Bush's power to try Hamdan, now held at Guantanamo Bay, before a military tribunal. Roberts concluded that Congress had authorized the President to convene such tribunals and that Hamdan can be so tried because rogue Al Qaeda combatants are not protected prisoners of war.
Such thinking will be missed, but there's consolation in that Justice Antonin Scalia rejected calls that he step aside for public remarks, which, according to Newsweek, were: "War is war, and it has never been the case that when you captured a combatant you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts. Give me a break." Then, Scalia, whose son served in Iraq, was asked about a Guantanamo prisoner's rights. "If he was captured by my army on a battlefield, that is where he belongs," Scalia replied. "I had a son on that battlefield and they were shooting at my son, and I'm not about to give this man who was captured in a war a full jury trial. I mean, it's crazy." It is, but he's not.