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"I Don't Care About Holding People"

This is a couple of weeks old, but it has been nagging at me ever since I saw it.

Via Andrew Sullivan, an article in The Globe and Mail on a panel discussion at a legal conference in Ottawa earlier this month:

Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge's passing remark -- "Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra 'What would Jack Bauer do?' " -- got the legal bulldog in Judge Scalia barking.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. ... He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent's rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

"Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?" Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. "Say that criminal law is against him? 'You have the right to a jury trial?' Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don't think so." ...

Generally, the jurists in the room agreed that coerced confessions carry little weight, given that they might be false and almost never accepted into evidence. But the U.S. Supreme Court judge stressed that he was not speaking about putting together pristine prosecutions, but rather, about allowing agents the freedom to thwart immediate attacks.

"I don't care about holding people. I really don't," Judge Scalia said.

First, was Scalia actually using a television show to buttress his legal position? Second, and more seriously, did he actually say that he doesn't care about holding people? From Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution:

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.
Habeus corpus is quite possibly the most important check on the unrestrained power of the state that the people possess. It's absolutely fundamental to the preservation of liberty. But Scalia doesn't "care about holding people"?


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