Yesterday’s US Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush took up a legal issue upon which there can be genuine intellectual disagreement. The question of whether or not the "great writ" of habeas corpus should be extended in any measure to non-citizens detained by our federal government in territory over which another country maintains de jure sovereignty is by any measure a difficult one. Like most difficult questions of constitutional law, this decision came down to a 5 to 4 decision, which very easily could have swung the other way. Such is the malleability of constitutional law on difficult questions.
While I respect the intellectual position of the justices in the minority, I simply cannot abide Justice Scalia’s hysterical rantings that the majority’s opinion "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." This rant was delivered orally from the bench, no less – which, for those of you who do not follow the Supreme Court, is only done occasionally and only when a justice is particularly firm in his or her conviction that the majority got it completely wrong.
To place the putative blame for more American deaths on his fellow justices for following their strongly held convictions and honest intellectual conclusions is simply repugnant. This type of vicious ad hominem attack may have some place in the political branches of the federal government (although I for one am getting pretty darn tired of that type of behavior on the part of the Executive and the Congress as well), but it demeans and politicizes the vital work of the Supreme Court to provide authoritative guidance on the great questions of constitutional law. In so doing, Justice Scalia provides more grist for the already churning mill of attacks against the federal judiciary.
Of course, Justice Scalia has already made it abundantly clear that he is a wholly political animal (duck hunting, anyone?), rather than a fair and impartial judge, so I guess none of this should surprise me. But hey, if you want to play this game, Justice Scalia, I’m in – "George Bush’s failed policies in Iraq will certainly cause more Americans to be killed."