President Officially Crowned As Dictator
Court sidesteps war powers challenge In 6-3 vote, justices won't review appeal of ex-'enemy combatant' From Bill Mears CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A divided Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a U.S. citizen held until recently as an "enemy combatant" without traditional legal rights.
The case goes to the heart of the president's executive authority against global terrorism.
But justices, in a 6-3 vote, sidestepped that issue, agreeing with the government that it was moot because Jose Padilla now faces criminal charges in Florida.
The court's denial of jurisdiction was a victory for the Bush administration, which had suffered a series of legal setbacks over its anti-terror policies.
One justice noted that Padilla's appeal was "hypothetical" at this stage since he is no longer in military custody.
The court's refusal to consider the matter further had been debated internally by the justices for weeks. . .
Ginsberg, Souter, Breyer dissent
In a brief dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "Nothing the government has yet done purports to retract the assertion of executive power Padilla protests." Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer also would have accepted the case for review.
It takes at least four justices to accept cases for review, meaning oral arguments are held and written opinions are usually issued.
Padilla's attorney, Donna Newman, expressed disappointment. "We believe those constitutional issues should have been resolved by the Supreme Court, and we're not alone on that," she said. "But they have spoken, and there is nothing else we can do."