Habeaus Corpas

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The War against Terror as War against the Constitution
Jackson A. Niday, II

Abstract: This essay examines rhetorical dynamics in the 2004 US Supreme Court case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld. News reports suggested the court split 8-1 or 6-3. However, case texts show substantive disagreements created a 4-2-2-1 split in the court. Moreover, while the justices on the bench split into four camps rather than two, those camps were not defined along ideological lines. This essay argues that pragmatism, the legal philosophy that held sway in the case, achieved practical expediency at the expense of judicial and constitutional coherency. In the end, the court found a majority through neither persuasion nor principled conviction but, rather, through reluctant compromise in order to achieve a partial resolution rather than none. In other words, argumentation failed and consensus followed from necessity rather than persuasion. The essay explores the question of whether constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties were violated in the ruling. Keywords: US Supreme Court, rhetoric, Hamdi, Rumsfeld, terrorism, illegal combatant, enemy combatant, Scalia, jeremiad ´ ´ ´ ´ Resume : Le present essai jette un coup d’oeil sur la rhetorique dynamique ˆ ´ du cas Hamdi c. Rumsfeld entendu par la Cour supreme americaine en 2004. ´ ´ ´ ´ ` Les rapports des medias ont suggere que la Cour avait statue a huit voix contre une ou six voix contre trois. Toutefois, les textes du cas indiquent ´ ˆ ´ ´ que des desaccords substantiels avaient entraıne une repartition des voix ` ´ ´ ´ de 4-2-2-1 a la Cour. En outre, bien que le juges sur le banc aient ete divises ˆ ´ ´ en quatre camps plutot que deux, ces camps n’etaient pas definis selon des ´ lignes ideologiques. Selon cet essai, le pragmatisme, la philosophie ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ juridique qui a predomine dans ce cas, a ete basee sur un opportunisme ` ´ ´ pratique aux depens de la coherence juridique et constitutionnelle. A la fin, ´ ´ ´ la Cour a statue en majorite non par persuasion ou par conviction fondee ˆ ´ sur des principes, mais plutot en raison d’un compromis reticent afin ´ ˆ ´ d’obtenir une resolution partielle plutot qu’aucune resolution du tout. ´ ´ ´ ´ En d’autres mots, l’argumentation a echoue et un consensus a decoule de ¤ ¤ ß Canadian Review of American Studies/Revue canadienne d’etudes americaines 38, no.1, 2008

´ ´ ˆ ´ la necessite plutot que de la persuasion. L’essai tente de determiner si des ´ ´ ´ ´ libertes civiles garanties par la constitution ont ete violees lors de la ´ decision. ˆ ´ ´ ´ Mots cles : Cour supreme americaine, rhetorique, Hamdi, Rumsfeld, ´ ´ ´ terrorisme, combattant illegal, combattant ennemi, Scalia, jeremiades

Canadian Review of American Studies 38 (2008)

102

Responding to the attacks of 11 September 2001, the Bush administration launched its war against terrorism. In the immediate wake of 9/11, the war enjoyed near-unanimous support from both sides of the aisle and across the citizenry. As the war continued, the Administration employed terms such as ‘‘illegal combatant’’ and ‘‘enemy combatant’’ to buttress its campaign of arms with a campaign of words in which the world was put on notice that anyone who was not with the US was with the terrorists (Bush). But, as its drama unfolded (punctuated by such things as Congress’s joint resolution authorizing use of military force [hereafter, the AUMF], the campaigns against al Qaeda and the Taliban, the Patriot Act, the capture of large numbers of detainees, Abu Ghraib, the Bybee memo, and the war in Iraq), a growing body of dissent began to question the Administration’s policies, methods, and rhetoric. So dangerous did the implications of the Administration’s language seem that not only did traditional political opponents vilify it, but some prominent political supporters expressed misgivings too (Eberhart). Some opponents charged that, with the campaign abroad, the Administration’s rhetoric had launched a campaign against the US...
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