Select quotes follow from the Supreme Court 5-3 ruling Thursday that the Bush administration exceeded its constitutional authority by creating military tribunals for prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as from President Bush, lawmakers and 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 UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949."
"... Even assuming Hamden 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."
"... 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. People have got to understand that. 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., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee:
"The Supreme Court's decision concerning military commissions at Guantanamo 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:
"In response to today's Supreme Court decision, 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."
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow:
"This will not mean closing down Guantanamo. There's nothing in this opinion that dictates closing down Guantanamo."
Two Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jon Kyl of Arizona, said in a joint statement that they'd pursue legislation to give the executive branch the authority to try terrorists by military commissions:
"We are disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. We believe the problems cited by the court can and should be fixed."
"It is inappropriate to try terrorists in civilian courts. It threatens our national security and places the safety of jurors in danger. For those reasons and others, we believe terrorists should be tried before military commissions."
Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is involved in challenges to the detentions:
"The government has a very difficult mountain to climb. They're not going to be able to use evidence that has been coerced from detainees. What's the government going to have left for evidence?"
To read the Supreme Court decision online, go to
(c) 2006, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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