This week in a 5-4 decision the U.S.Supreme Court ruled that the detainees, some of whom have been held for six years, had rights under habeas corpus, a long-standing legal principle by which people can challenge their imprisonment.
While criticizing the decision John McCain made the following remarks:
The United States Supreme Court yesterday rendered a decision which I think is one of the worst decisions in the history of this country. Our first obligation is the safety and security of this nation and the men and women who defend it. This decision will harm our ability to do that.
Umm, no… the first obligation of the President (and members of Congress), and particularly the Supreme Court is to uphold the Constitution.
Indeed, the decision may “harm” the ability of the government to keep us safe and secure, but so would many things (although I’m generally of the mind that you don’t need to sacrifice liberty for security).
For example, let’s suppose that the permanent institution of martial law might make us less likely to be killed in a terrorist attack. Then a Supreme Court ruling saying that permanent martial law is unconstitutional would “harm our ability to” keep Americans safe and secure. That surely doesn’t make such a decision wrong… except perhaps to John McCain.