Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Judges Sentelle, Randolph: Congress can suspend habeas protections

In a 2-1 decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Guantanamo bay detainees the right of habeas corpus, citing a law passed by Congress in 2006 specifically denying them those rights. (Habeas corpus is the right of a prisoner to protest the legality of his imprisonment before a court.)
U.S. appeals court backs Bush, denies Gitmo detainees

U.S. citizens and foreigners being held inside the country normally have the right to contest their detention before a judge. The Justice Department said foreign enemy combatants are not protected by the Constitution.

[Judge A. Raymond] Randolph and Judge David B. Sentelle ordered that the hundreds of cases pending in the lower courts be dismissed.

Judge Judith W. Rogers dissented, saying the cases should proceed.
Here are some other opinions of Circuit Judge Sentelle:
Government correct not to publicly identify Sept. 11 detainees

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department properly withheld the names and other details about hundreds of foreigners detained in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal appeals court ruled today. The powerful decision was deferential to the Bush administration's arguments over continued threats to America from terrorists.

In a 2-1 ruling that represents a major victory for President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft, a panel from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that disclosing such information could provide a roadmap of the government's Sept. 11 investigation for international terrorists.

Federal judges asked to compel such disclosures should defer to White House concerns that it might help the nation's enemies, the appeals panel said.

"America faces an enemy just as real as its former Cold War foes, with capabilities beyond the capacity of the judiciary to explore," wrote U.S. Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle. He said judges are "in an extremely poor position to second-guess the executive's judgment in this area of national security."

In a harsh dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge David S. Tatel accused his colleagues of "uncritical deference to the government's vague, poorly explained arguments for withholding broad categories of information about the detainees."

Junketing Judges: A Case of Bad Science

Just how far will corporate lobbyists go to tilt governmental decisions in their favor? Last fall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the Clean Air Act does not require regulating carbon dioxide emissions that are heating up the planet at an unprecedented rate. It turns out that two of the jurists who helped decide the case -- Chief Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg and Judge David B. Sentelle -- attended a six-day global warming seminar at Yellowstone National Park sponsored by a free-market foundation and featuring presentations from companies with a clear financial interest in limiting regulation.

Sentelle was the deciding vote in the 2 to 1 ruling last fall backing the EPA's decision not to regulate, and he and Ginsburg were part of the 4 to 3 majority on the full court that rejected a request by states and environmental groups to reconsider. The Supreme Court will decide on June 15 whether to hear an appeal.

Punishing Good Journalists

Writing for the court, D.C. Circuit Court Judge David B. Sentelle ruled flatly that journalists have no constitutional right to be free from testifying before a grand jury. His hands are tied, he said, by a Supreme Court decision a generation ago, Branzberg v. Hayes, in which a divided court rejected the idea of a First Amendment privilege. The justices, Sentelle noted, wrote in Branzberg that they could "not seriously entertain the notion that the First Amendment protects a newsman's agreement to conceal the criminal conduct of his source, or evidence thereof, on the theory that it is better to write about a crime than to do something about it."

U.S. appeals court debates anti-piracy TV technology

U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards told the Federal Communications Commission it "crossed the line" requiring the new anti-piracy technology in next-generation television devices. But another appeals judge on the panel questioned whether consumers can challenge the FCC's rules in the courtroom.

But Sentelle questioned whether the consumer and library groups can lawfully challenge the FCC decision, since the rules in question affect television viewers broadly. Appeals court procedures require groups to be able to show a particular injury before judges will consider a case; the FCC did not argue this point.

D.C. Circuit Judge Gets on Supreme Court Short List

In the July 2004 decision Barbour v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), Roberts joined Merrick Garland -- a Clinton appointee -- in deciding that sovereign immunity did not bar a D.C employee with bipolar disorder from suing the transit agency under federal laws barring discrimination against the disabled. Conservative Sentelle dissented.

h/t thinkprogress

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