ACLU: Court has chance to show executive branch it can’t trump Constitution

Washington-AP — The American Civil Liberties Union says the Supreme Court needs to show the executive branch that it can’t trump the Constitution.The high court will hear cases later this month surrounding some of the detainees held at the U-S military’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Both Jose Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi (YAH’-ser EE’-sahm HAHM’-dee) are American citizens. Their lawyers say the two are being held as “enemy combatants” — without legal rights.

The Bush administration has said it needs wide latitude in fighting terror — such as holding detainees for extended periods.

But the A-C-L-U’s legal director says “as horrible as the events of September Eleventh were, they did not rewrite the Constitution.”

Steve Shapiro says the high court has in the past bowed to the executive branch and allowed military concerns to win out over civil liberties. But it says the court has to recognize that the Bush administration has acted without regard for the Geneva Conventions — and should send the cases to lower courts.

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Associated Press, USA
Apr. 12, 2004

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