Public Opinion about the Rights of Guantanamo Detainees

Most Americans oppose last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba should be able to challenge their incarcerations in the civilian court system.
In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 61 percent said non-citizens suspected of terrorism should not have these rights under the U.S. Constitution; 34 percent said they should. The view that these suspects do not share these privileges cuts across party lines, with majorities of Democrats (53 percent), independents (56 percent) and Republicans (77 percent) taking that position.

From the Washington Post’s Behind the Numbers blog. More information is here.

7 Responses to Public Opinion about the Rights of Guantanamo Detainees

  1. arbitrista June 18, 2008 at 11:41 am #

    That’s just repulsive.

  2. Robert L. June 18, 2008 at 12:18 pm #

    You can be against both Guantanamo and the Supreme Court decision. I believe that Guantanamo, and what’s happened there, is a huge mistake in both moral and pragmatic terms but . . .

    A majority of SCOTUS took a purely political stand that has absolutely no grounding in the constitution. The position of SCOTUS is that it can simply force its political will on the country because it is ‘right’ without restriction and this should scare the hell out of everybody.

    This decision says that captured North Korean soldiers being held in a prison camp in South Korea during the Korean War were covered by the US constitution and had the right of habeas corpus. Viewed as law, this is so obviously ludicrous that it leads quickly to the only sensible answer: 5 members of the Supreme Court set themselves up as rulers and simply over-rode the decision of the democratically elected government because they thought, however correctly, that it was wrong.

  3. Matt Jarvis June 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    If the Constitution can be read to imply that simply holding someone in a foreign location deprives them of rights they would have if detained on US soil, then the Constitution is flawed. There’s really no debate that ANYONE held in a regular US prison has these rights, regardless of citizenship or crime they are charged with.
    I read these numbers as further evidence that democracy is a REALLY bad idea.

  4. Robert L. June 18, 2008 at 6:37 pm #

    It is not “simply holding them in a foreign location.” We are talking about foreign nationals captured in war time operations abroad. These are people who never had constitutional rights under the US constitution: they can not be deprived of something they never had.

    Nor are we talking about anyone being held in a “regular US prison.” Anyone arrested in the United States for a criminal code violation would have habeas corpus rights regardless of where they were held: that is not the issue here. We are talking about Prisoners of War who were captured, not arrested which is why they are not in “regular prison” in the first place.

    As for democracy being a bad idea, 5 members of SCOTUS agreed with you and acted accordingly.

  5. Dan Tarrant June 19, 2008 at 9:05 am #

    Hey Robert L., when did we declare war again?

  6. Susan Hedges June 19, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    “The position of SCOTUS is that it can simply force its political will on the country because it is ‘right’ without restriction and this should scare the hell out of everybody.”

    I thought this was the position of the current president and his cabinet. Huh.

  7. Robert L. June 19, 2008 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi Dan: I used the Korean War analogy, as opposed to say WWII, specifically because we never declared war in Korea though it was, indisputably, a war. We haven’t declared war since what, 1941?, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t held any POWs since 1945.

    Hi Susan: I believe SCOTUS is clearly wrong, and has no jurisdiction, on this one but many other aspects of the ‘war on terror’ are clearly subject to SCOTUS scrutiny and, I believe, some of the Bush administration’s domestic policies are unconstitutional and should be over-ruled.