EXCERPTS FROM COURT RULING; COMMENTS OF OTHERS
Selected quotes follow from the Supreme Court's 5-3 ruling Thursday that the Bush administration exceeded its constitutional authority by creating military tribunals for prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as from others:
From the majority opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens: "The military commission at issue lacks the power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate both the [Uniform Code of Military Justice] and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949." "Even assuming [detainee Salim Ahmed] Hamdan is a dangerous individual . . . the executive nevertheless must comply with the prevailing rule of law in undertaking to try him and subject him to criminal punishment." From a concurring opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: "As presently structured, Hamdan's military commission exceeds the bounds Congress has placed on the president's authority. . . . Because Congress has prescribed these limits, Congress can change them."
President Bush: "To the extent that there is latitude to work with the Congress to determine whether or not the military tribunals will be an avenue in which to give people their day in court, we will do so. "The American people need to know that this ruling, as I understand it, won't cause killers to be put out on the street. . . . I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people. . . I understand we're in a war on terror; that these people were picked up off of a battlefield; and I will protect the people and, at the same time, conform with the findings of the Supreme Court."
Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., of the Senate Judiciary Committee: "The Supreme Court's decision concerning military commissions at Guantánamo Bay is a major rebuke to an administration that has too often disregarded the rule of law. It is a testament to our system of government that the Supreme Court has stood up against this overreaching by the executive branch."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., in a statement: " Congress should work with the president to update our laws on terrorist combatants to respond to the new threats of a post-9/11 world. Since this issue so directly impacts our national security, I will pursue the earliest possible action in the United States Senate."