Thursday, September 28, 2006

Compare and Contrast

U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9, second paragraph:

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.
(Emphasis added).

Senate Bill 3930 (passed on Thursday, the House has already passed essentially the same bill:


(a) In General- Section 2241 of title 28, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by striking subsection (e) (as added by section 1005(e)(1) of Public Law 109-148 (119 Stat. 2742)) and by striking subsection (e) (as added by added by section 1405(e)(1) of Public Law 109-163 (119 Stat. 3477)); and
(2) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

`(e)(1) No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider an application for a writ of habeas corpus filed by or on behalf of an alien detained by the United States who—

`(A) is currently in United States custody; and
`(B) has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination.

(Emphasis added).

Yes, it is a big deal. The writ of habeas corpus is abolished for non-citizens who have been determined by the president (or his agents) to either be an enemy combatant, or who are awaiting that determination.

No, I don't think we have a rebellion or an invasion right now within our borders. But the legislation does not limit itself to outside our borders.

The U.S. Supreme Court determined a long time ago that the writ of habeas corpus cannot be suspended in areas in which the civil Federal Courts are open. Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2, 140 (1866).

"We by no means assert that Congress can establish and apply the laws of war where no war has been declared or exists.

Where peace exists the laws of peace must prevail. What we do maintain is, that when the nation is involved in war, and some portions of the country are invaded, and all are exposed to invasion, it is within the power of Congress to determine in what states or district such great and imminent public danger exists as justifies the authorization of military tribunals for the trial of crimes and offences against the discipline or security of the army or against the public safety." Id. at 140.

So the Milligan Court recognized that military tribunals could be authorized by Congress, but only when there is an invasion within our borders and a declared war (or a rebellion, as the Court called the War Between the States). We don't have any of those within our borders now.

But, as of the end of this week, we will have the suspension of the Great Writ for aliens (including legal aliens) throughout the land. All it takes to lock such a person up is for him to have been "determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant or is awaiting such determination." In other words, if the President says you are awaiting determination, you can be locked up and you don't get to ask a court for review.

One other thing to note: the protections of the Constitution, including due process and habeas corpus, have consistently applied to all "persons", not just U.S. citizens, found within our borders. (The distinctions between citizens and non-citizen residents show up in some cases, like immigration, which the Constitution expressly allows for Congress to regulate.) This means that no conceptual or legal difficulty exists to prevent the law from being extended to citizens sometime in the future.

Welcome to the future. It doesn't seem so bad yet. Incrementalism works well on lobsters and sleepy people. The temperature of our country just went up another degree or two.

Hang on.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bumper Sticker Theology

Seen on a car bumper this morning: "Eve was framed."

The driver was a burly man in a baseball cap. I spent more time than was wise trying to imagine the scenario that resulted in this strip of paper being affixed to his car. Of all the philosophical or political statements one could choose to purchase, this one struck me as a remarkably succinct expression of theology gone bad.

It also exhibits precisely Eve's error. If we can believe Eve was framed, that means that we can determine what is right and wrong for ourselves. By trying to do that, God tells us, we become blind--and dead.

The burly cap-man probably wants to defend Eve because he hopes to defend himself. But even Eve did not seek such a defense.

"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool," Prov. 28:26, and, "But the fool rageth, and is confident." Prov. 12:10.

Lord protect me from such confidence.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Augustine the Clarkian, or is it vice versa?

I'm reading Warfield on Augustine. I ran across this paragraph and it reminded me of Gordon Clark's view on the Bible being the source of truth. (And his so-called arch-nemesis, Cornelius Van Til, I'm sure would agree).

"Say you are determined to have a religion which you can demonstrate. The very search for it presupposes a precedent faith that there is a God and that he cares for us; for surely no one will seek God, or inquire how we should serve Him, without so much to go on. And where and how will you seek? Who are the wise? How will you determine who are wise in such things? In the manifold disagreements of pretenders to wisdom, it will require a wise man to select the really wise. We are caught in a fatal circle here; we must needs be wise beforehand in order to discriminate wisdom. There is but one outlet; and that outlet is, shortly, revelation."

Vol. IV Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Baker Book House Reprint (2003), pp. 167-68 (addressing and paraphrasing Augustine "De utilitate credendi")(citations omitted)(emphasis added).

Not a new truth, but one we keep having to relearn: the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

How Not to Know God

During a break from writing and responding to various motions, I noticed a book in the lunch room:

How to Know God by Deepak Chopra.

I had read some things by the author in the past. I sort of knew what to expect. But I picked it up to see if it had an index. It actually did. No entry for "Jesus", no entry for "Christ", not even an entry for "Moses".

I didn't bother to look through it much more, except I did see that it offered advice on the proper posture for meditation.

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." Jn. 14:6.

You'd think a book about knowing God would have at least something to say about this basic truth. More than 200 pages were devoted to ignoring it. As that old king said, "a fool hath no delight in understanding, but only that his heart may reveal itself." Prov. 18:2.

By the way, the index did have an entry for Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Providential Justice

A Lunchtime Vignette.

A while back I was sitting in a little eating area at Pike Place Market in Seattle. I was reading over some notes and eating a hotdog. Tourists crowded the pig statue for pictures. The fish mongers were tossing halibut for the cameras. Natives were grabbing a quick bite.

I like bicycle messengers in principle. Some of them, however, are jerks. One such jerk pushed his bike through the crowd, plopped down on a bench, and leaned his bike against the table so that it pretty effectively cut in half the capacity of the narrow corridor. People struggled by. One middle-aged woman asked if he would move his bicycle. He responded, "hey, f--- off. I'm only gonna be here a few minutes."

Just as my blood pressure started to rise, I heard a crash. A blind man, very startled and confused, had bumped into the bike. He was unhurt, but a bit distraught. Kind people assured him not to worry and guided him away.

Meanwhile, the bike messenger was picking up the front of his bike and looking at it like kid with a broken toy. The front wheel had "tacoed", that is, it was folded over like a taco shell because some of the spokes had broken. He gathered up his bag, his bike, and left his sandwich. It was unlikely his bike would be making any deliveries that afternoon.

We aren't to seek vengeance, but I think it is quite all right to delight in God's providential judgments.

"Vengeance is mine, and recompense, at the time when their foot shall slide: for the day of their calamity is at hand."

Deut. 31:35

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Eccl. 5:18

"Behold, that which I have seen to be good and proper is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, in which he labors under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; for this is his portion. "

Some of our grapes are ripe and we are eating them. The ones above need a week or two.

The extra grapes have gone into grape juice (pasteurized for drinking):

And some of it is going into wine.

Our first figs are slowly coming along. Beans, berries, and eggs round out the produce from the back 1/8th acre. And there are roses. It is our portion.

Soli Deo Gloria.