This week, fans of rational and democratically-protected civil liberties had many reasons to rejoice (or at least, wait with bated breath until the inevitable appeals process begins) as federal courts issued three striking rejoinders to Big, Bad, and Powerful Interests–notably, King George and the RIAA.
Seriously, try smiling, just this once. Because, realistically, we all know it will be frown season again when November 2004 rolls around.
1. Court: Gitmo suspects need lawyers
In another legal setback for the Bush administration, a federal appeals court has concluded terrorist suspects held in secret U.S. custody on foreign soil deserve access to lawyers and the American legal system.
…The 9th Circuit [ruled that] “even in times of national emergency — indeed, particularly in such times — it is the obligation of the judicial branch to ensure the preservation of our constitutional values and to prevent the executive branch from running roughshod over the rights of citizens and aliens alike. … We hold that no lawful policy or precedent supports such a counter-intuitive and undemocratic procedure.”
In New York, a divided court ruled that President Bush lacked the authority to indefinitely detain Jose Padilla – a U.S. citizen – simply by declaring him “an enemy combatant.”
The majority of the three-judge panel ruled that while Congress might have the power to authorize the detention of an American, the president, acting on his own, did not. Padilla has been held in solitary confinement for 18 months without access to a lawyer or the courts. No charges have been filed against Padilla who is a US citizen born in Brooklyn.
The recording industry cannot compel an Internet service provider to give up the names of customers who trade music online without judicial review, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled today.
The sharply worded ruling, which dismissed one industry argument by saying that it “borders on the silly,” is a blow to the music companies in the online music wars. It overturns a decision in federal district court that favored the industry and ordered Verizon Communications to disclose the identity of a subscriber based on simple subpoenas submitted to a court clerk.