Supreme Court justices, current or retired, are not known to talk about cases in public. They rarely, if ever, criticize the current administration. So many of us in the audience were surprised when, unprompted, Justice O'Connor turned the discussion to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Guantanamo detainees, a ruling that found the military commissions the Bush administration put in place at Guantanamo Bay violated both U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions.
Justice O'Connor explained that, while the Supreme Court can rule on cases, it has no power to enforce its own ruling. For that, the court relies entirely on the Executive Branch. And even though the Court had ruled Guantanamo was illegal, the Executive Branch -- Bush's White House -- had still not enforced the court's findings. Detainees were still imprisoned; the machinery for hearings had not even been put in place.