Our Battered Constitution



The Constitution? Forget about it.

Only about half of America's high school students think newspapers should
be allowed to publish freely, without government approval of their stories.
And a third say the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment go "too far."

This has thrown a lot of noses out of joint. Hodding Carter III, president
of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which financed a two-year
study of high school attitudes about First Amendment freedoms, said, "These
results are not only disturbing - they are dangerous."

But maybe we shouldn't be so hard on the youngsters. After all, they've
been set a terrible example by a presidential administration that has left
no doubt about its contempt for a number of our supposedly most cherished
constitutional guarantees.

In an important decision on Monday, a federal judge in Washington ruled
that the Bush administration cannot be allowed to defy the Constitution and
an order of the Supreme Court in its treatment of the hundreds of prisoners
it is holding at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The judge, Joyce Hens Green, said
the administration must permit the detainees it is holding as "enemy
combatants" to challenge their detention in federal courts.

The administration has tried mightily to establish its right to treat
anyone who it determines is an "enemy combatant" any way it chooses. It has
argued that it can hold such detainees for a lifetime - without charging
them, without giving them access to lawyers, without showing them the
evidence against them and without allowing them to challenge their detention.

Administration officials are adamant on this matter, and yesterday they
were granted a stay of Judge Green's decision, pending an appeal

 


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