Enemy combatants must be able to challenge detention
Jul 27, 2004
Christian and Muslim groups that had filed legal briefs on behalf of terrorism prisoners praised the late June decisions by the Supreme Court that said “enemy combatants” and foreign nationals detained by the U.S. must be permitted to challenge their detention in American courts.
The U.S. Supreme Court has sidestepped a dispute over the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling that a California atheist had no standing to challenge the phrase on behalf of his daughter. The 8-0 decision was announced on Flag Day, June 14, which was also the 50th anniversary of the time the phrase was inserted into the pledge.
The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to consider an appeal of a lower court ruling that mealtime prayers at Virginia Military Institute are unconstitutional. Justice Antonin Scalia issued a strong dissent to the high court’s April 26 refusal, saying the case raised key questions about church and state.
The implications of Supreme Court decisions are often in the eye of the beholder. That observation was borne out recently by discussions of legal scholars and a White House official on the court’s latest major church-state decision. Yet, on balance, the ruling seemed to replace a few bricks in the wall of separation.
Americans are locked in an intense conflict over the role of federal courts. Conservatives are deeply aggrieved by Supreme Court decisions in the past 30 years that have struck down laws against abortion, laws on homosexuality, and certain laws and policies promoting religion in the public square.
A massive public outcry greeted the ruling last month by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring that the words “under God” in public school recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance violate the “no establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment. Congress rushed to condemn the decision. President Bush termed it ridiculous and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called it “just nuts.