Friday, June 30, 2006

On Jurisdiction

Some of the commentary I've read on the recent Hamden decision revolves around the premise that the Supreme Court didn't have jurisdiction to hear the case, because of the plain language of the law by which the president was detaining the prisoners.

The prisoners were being held per the Geneva Conventions (among other reasons), and the Geneva Conventions were part of a treaty/agreement that the United States entered into.

Why does this matter? Well, I didn't catch it, myself (I'm merely a student, bear with me), but Dr. Stephen Taylor at PoliBlog noted that perhaps this little phrase in the Constitution, in Article VI (the Supremacy Clause), might matter:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

See, the agreements were made under the Authority of the United States, which subjects them to Constitutional review, and the Constitution is interpreted by the Court, not the president or Congress.

3 comments:

Bellejar said...

My note was on a situation involving foreign and domestic laws. Treaties like those granting consular rights are often ignored despite the constitution. I don't get it.

Matthew said...

Isn't there an exception for President Bush, though?

Steve said...

One of the more disturbing things I read in some of the conservative blogs I read were in the comments sections, where some commenters said that the president should just ignore the Court, or be like Andrew Jackson and tell the Court to enforce their judgment.

The evolution of this topic over the next several weeks could be very important for this country.