... Padilla is a US citizen arrested on US soil almost two years ago and declared by President Bush
to be an "enemy combatant." Although no charges have been filed, Padilla has remained in a military brig, largely incommunicado.
The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit declared in December that the president lacks the inherent authority to
detain a citizen in this fashion, thereby leading to an appeal to be heard by the Supreme Court in April. The notion
of incarcerating a US citizen for a prolonged period, without filing charges, runs so counter to well-established constitutional
rights as to be almost unimaginable. ....
If the entire United States is the battlefield for purposes of the war on terror, every citizen is now subject
to the same threat of arrest and incarceration. In denying our federal judges the opportunity to serve in precisely
the role that the Constitution intended, the Department of Justice and the president are not merely affecting the
rights of a single individual, who may prove to be the scum of the earth. Rather, they are undermining every citizen's
rights in the process. Rights that are denied to Padilla today may be denied to you or me or our children tomorrow. ...
Joan A. Lukey, a past president of the Boston Bar Association, is a senior partner at Hale and
Dorr LLP in Boston.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.