Use the Constitution as a moral document for habeas corpus
Regarding the Feb. 21 article, "No court access for detainees": The 2006 Military Commissions Act says that the right of habeas corpus – the fundamental right to ask a judge for release from unjust imprisonment – does not apply to foreigners being held outside the US as enemy combatants. A federal appeals court panel now upholds this claim. Quite simply, this is a legal blunder.
The Constitution counts if and only if it is a great moral document, providing clear guidelines for difficult cases. To be a great moral document, it must not violate common sense, and it must lean heavily on well-grounded moral principles such as universality and reversibility: What is right for one is right for all, and what one is ready to enforce upon others one must be ready to enforce upon oneself.
The right of habeas corpus is a human right, not a right restricted to Americans. The Military Commissions Act cannot sensibly restrict habeas corpus rights to apply only to those living within the borders of the US.
Yet it did precisely that, and now it has received the blessing of a high federal court. Let us hope the matter will quickly come to the Supreme Court and hope, too, that the Supreme Court will get it right.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
In his Opinion Feb. 21 piece, "A new prejudice in American politics," Jerald Podair makes a good argument that personal and stylistic gaffes can doom a political campaign quite quickly in this day and age. However, I respectfully disagree with his feeling that religion is no longer a major issue in high-level elections, especially presidential elections.
Voters may not boycott a candidate any longer for being Roman Catholic, as Mr. Podair points out, or even for being Mormon, as in the current campaign. Yet at the same time, voters tend to expect – even require – that a candidate be religious. Many, if not most, voters still demand that their candidates publicly display "faith" to be electable to higher political office.
Joseph Lieberman was a long-shot presidential candidate in 2004 partly because he was Jewish, but his obviously sincere religious beliefs helped him to get past that potential roadblock.
How would a secular Jew fare? A Muslim, no matter how faithful, would have trouble in the current political climate. And what about someone who has strong faith but not in a single divine being – a Hindu, Buddhist, or Wiccan?
Furthermore, I don't see it being feasible for an agnostic or atheist candidate to have any chance whatsoever at the presidency any time soon. Religion, and particularly faith, remains an unofficial requirement – a litmus test – for the presidency in this country.
Oak Hill, Va.
Regarding the Feb. 21 article, "More Americans live their lives online": I used to love to shop at brick-and-mortar stores until they lost their ability to cater to my needs.
Instead of going store to store, wasting time, energy, and gas money only to find that what I want isn't in stock or that my size isn't carried, I can go online and, within minutes, find exactly what I want.
Sure, I have to pay shipping and handling, but in most cases, I still save money and time. In the long run, that's what matters.
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