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Testifying before Congress yesterday, the Justice Department's top lawyer had a succinct answer to a question posed by a senator about whether Bush was wrong or right in his interpretation of the Supreme Court's Hamdan case: "The President is always right."

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Constitutional expert and best-selling author Glenn Greenwald reminds us that the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision not only outlawed Bush's military tribunals, but also removed any conceivable argument to support Bush's illegal wiretapping programs.

  • Greenwald: "Journalists should begin asking the Justice Department every day what their legal justification for warrantless eavesdropping is now that Hamdan has rendered frivolous their prior legal arguments in defense of the President."
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    Truthdig salutes the 86-year-old Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which struck down the military tribunals Bush set up to try Guantanamo detainees. But more important, this decision, in the words of a Yale law professor, "effectively undermines the Administration's strongest claims about Presidential power," and may constitute the legal framework necessary to halt the more egregious of Bush's civil liberties-infringing programs -- like warrantless wiretapping and holding terrorism suspects without trial.

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    The admiral in charge of the Guantanamo military detention center said he doubts Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on presidential authority will have any effect on his operations. But a Bush administration lawyer wasn't as sanguine, saying about the decision, "It's very broad, it's very significant, and it's a slam."

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    Specifically, today's Supreme Court ruling held that the president overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

  • But more important, Think Progress interprets the ruling to mean that "the Authorization for the Use of Military Force -- issued by Congress in the days after 9/11 -- is not a blank check for the administration."
  • Also, SCOTUSblog says the ruling means that the Geneva Convention does apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda, and consequently "this almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation tactics of waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act."
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    The Supreme Court ruled that state legislators may draw new electoral maps as often as they like -- meaning that we'll likely see new gerrymandered voting districts every time there is a power shift at a state capital. Disgustingly enough, this ruling is actually a vindication for Tom DeLay.

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