Monday, November 26, 2007

Human Rights Delegations for Young Leaders

One of my former students did this program a few years ago and found it very rewarding.


Human Rights Delegations for Young Leaders -- Summer 2008

Program Locations: Bosnia, Guatemala, Rwanda & Venezuela

Application Deadline: January 25, 2008

Global Youth Connect, an international human rights organization, is pleased to announce that we are accepting applications from young leaders (ages 18-30) for our Summer 2008 international human rights delegations. Program locations include: Bosnia, Guatemala, Rwanda and Venezuela.

Human rights delegations are a unique, first-hand opportunity to cross cultural boundaries and learn about the daily reality of human rights as experienced in a complex and increasingly globalized world. Each delegation weaves together three core sets of activities: site visits to local organizations, hands-on fieldwork projects, and a human rights training workshop with local youth activists.

Bosnia (June 29 - July 18, 2008)
Program Tuition: $2,750

This delegation will explore the roots of the conflict and the dynamics of justice, reconciliation and peacebuilding as experienced in Bosnia. Participants will gain experience in conflict resolution and transformation and deepen their understanding of the post-conflict challenges faced by Bosnians today, especially youth. Participants will have an opportunity to meet with Bosnian NGOs working on issues of human rights, community development, youth empowerment, and conflict resolution. The program will also include a workshop with Bosnian youth and the opportunity to work hands-on with local organizations to assist them in their daily activities.

Guatemala (June 15 - July 13, 2008)
Program Tuition: $2,750

This delegation will explore the roots of violence and social injustice in Guatemala, with a particular focus on the country's indigenous population. We will seek to better understand the legacy of Guatemala's 36-year armed conflict and the impact of violence, both past and present, on the Guatemalan people, as well as reflect on how policies and practices in the U.S.have affected the lives of ordinary Guatemalans. Delegation activities will center on supporting the efforts of grassroots human rights activists working to promote and defend the political, social, economic and cultural rights of all Guatemalans. Spanish proficiency is required.

Rwanda (June 14 - July 13, 2008)
Program Tuition: $2,450

This delegation will explore the roots of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, how this legacy of violence has impacted the country and its people, particularly Rwandan youth, and also how the country is attempting to rebuild today. We will examine issues of truth, justice and reconciliation in the context of post-conflict Rwanda and what is needed to strengthen local institutions and programs dedicated to promoting a culture of respect for human rights. Participants will connect with young Rwandans and get involved in a variety of collaborative projects aimed at promoting human rights as well as meet with leading human rights defenders, government representatives, international institutions, youth and others from local communities to learn more about the political, economic and social challenges faced by Rwandans today.

Venezuela (July 26 - August 17, 2008)
Program Tuition: $2,250

The delegation will explore the rise of social change movements and human rights activism in present-day Venezuela, both on the grassroots level and as represented by national government programs. Through hands-on participation in partnership with grassroots organizations, participants will investigate present-day human rights concerns along with the response of government and civil society. A major theme of the program will be to examine the relationship of grassroots human rights organizations with a national government expressly concerned with promoting respect for human rights, democratic reform, and the redistribution of wealth. Delegation activities will focus in particular on the efforts of young human rights activists to promote
and sustain a just, equitable, democratic, and peaceful society. Spanish proficiency is required.

Application Deadline: January 25, 2008

How to Apply: We invite interested young leaders to apply. We are looking for participants who are between the ages of 18-30 and who possess U.S. citizenship or residency as well as international students studying full-time at a U.S. college or university. Most importantly, applicants should wish to expand their knowledge and understanding of human rights and social justice. Participants will become part of a growing global movement of youth acting together for compassion, human rights and responsibility.

For detailed information on program activities, costs, fundraising/financial aid, and application information, please visit our website:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Czech Republic

Here is Allison Jennings' presentation on the Czech Republic and an article on a successful discrimination suit against the government.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Legal Advocacy Dates

Our next evidence quiz will be on December 3, and the letter brief is due December 5.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Total Denial - December 4, 2007, at 7:30 p.m.

I will be showing the award winning film Total Denial - Doe v. Unocal on December 4, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. in PUP 354. The film tells the story of a landmark human rights case against Unocal in U.S. courts for human rights violations committed during the construction of its pipeline in Burma. See the film website for more.

Country Presentations

Here is Joshua Michael's presentation (ppt) on Tunisia and Hannah Saheed's presentation (ppt) on Turkey as well as an article on Turkey's issues with its Kurd population. Here is Christopher Castellano's presentation (ppt) on Belgium and Zachary Bratcher's presentation (ppt) on Switzerland.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pakistan's Former Chief Justice Calls for Resistance

Required for Comparative Justice Students.
As you know, Pakistan's President Musharraf, declared a state of national emergency last week as the Supreme Court prepared to rule on the legality of his presidency. In making the declaration Musharraf suspended the constitution, fired the Chief Justice, closed TV stations, and arrested hundreds of activists and opposition leaders. Protests have erupted in Pakistan led by Pakistani lawyers. The deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, urged Pakistanis to rise up against Musharrafs rule. These developments represent the clash between judicial independence and executive authority we predicted earlier in the semester. See this International Herald Tribune article. The Times of London has more.

Iran's Judiciary

By Pouyan Boukaei

Here is the presentation and article on Iran's court system.

"Iran: New Crackdown On Dissidents 'Seeks To Create Despair’
Human rights groups around the world are protesting the latest detention of prominent Iranian activist Emadedin Baqi, which comes amid a fresh crackdown on political dissent that some say seeks to “create despair” in Iran’s embattled opposition ahead of parliamentary polls next spring."

Ireland's Judiciary

By Megan Jenkins
Here is the presentation on Ireland's court system.

Nigeria's Judiciary

By Quiana Dunn
Here is the presentation (.ppt) and the article on Nigeria.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Test One Grades

Test one is graded. You may e-mail me to get your score if you would like. Please use your UMBC account.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Legal Internship Program

Legal Internship applications are due November 16. The legal internship program places selected students with various judges and attorneys. Recent placements have included several Circuit Court judges, Law firms, the State's Attorney's Office, the Public Defenders Office, law firms, the ACLU, and other legal advocacy groups. In their field work, students have learned various professional skills including legal research and writing, interviewing, negotiation, mediation, advocacy, etc. This program also gives students insight into the administration of justice, and into the relationship of courts to other institutions, electorate, and to individuals. Students earn 7 credits through successful completion of the internship program.

You must have junior standing and at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify.

If intersted download the information sheet and the application (Both are MS Word documents).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Comparative Justice Review

Post your review questions in the comments.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Student Presentations

Here are the links to the power point files that I have. If other students who have presented can send me their power point files I'll post them. Thanks.

New Zealand



Check in tomorrow for the blog review.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Musharraf Wins Election but Court Challenge Remains

(Required for Comparative Justice Students)

By Sarah Akhtar
General Pervez Musharraf successfully attained reelection on October 6 as Pakistan’s president in a landslide victory, receiving 252 of 257 parliamentary votes2. Despite the perceived dubiousness of the election process (Pakistan’s Parliament is filled with Musharraf’s supporters due to the rigging of the 2002 elections), Musharraf will assume the Presidency unless thwarted by the Supreme Court. The Court must rule on whether it was legal for Musharraf to seek election while he was still army chief1.
With his election, the judiciary now finds itself in a precarious position. It can declare Musharraf’s victory unconstitutional, maintaining its legitimacy in the eyes of the public, but risking an attack by the military on its sovereignty as a legitimate institution. Or the Court can bow to Musharraf’s pressures, allowing it to stand as an institution, but losing its credibility, which the Chief Justice has fought so hard to maintain. Given the Court ruled the day before elections that electoral process could proceed, I predict it will take the latter course. If it does Musharraf has agreed to resign his post in the army and become a civilian leader1. Whatever the outcome, there can be no doubt that the Judiciary will have a vital role in determining the extent to which the Pakistani government will shift in its transition from military rule to a civil democracy.

Haider, Kamran. “Musharraf Set to Win Vote as Victory Hangs on Court.” Washington Post Online 6 Oct. 2007. Nation. 7 Oct. 2007. .

“Musharraf Wins Presidential Vote.” BBC Online 6 Oct. 2007. South Asia. 7 Oct. 2007. .

Due process slow… but eventual in New Zealand

(Required for Comparative Justice Students)

By Dan McKenzie
The heightened state of concern over potential terrorism has tested the power of the judiciary and the rule of law in New Zealand. Mr. Ahmed Zaoui was an influential member of the Islamic Salvation Front (ISF) in Algeria. After the ISF had made significant ground in acquiring democratically elected control of the country, military forces opposed to the ISF began a systematic purge of ISF members. Mr. Zaoui fled the country eventually arriving in New Zealand where he was granted refugee status by the Refugee Status Appeal Authority in 2002.

Mr. Zaoui was soon arrested and declared a national security risk by the Security Intelligence Services. In compliance with this assessment the Minister of Immigration ordered the deportation of Mr. Zaoui at which point an appeal was made to the Inspector General of Intelligence for repeal of the security risk assessment. The Inspector General failed to initiate the review placing the status of Mr. Zaoui in limbo and resulting in his imprisonment for twenty three months.

In 2005 Mr.Zaoui brought the issue via appeal to the newly formed Supreme Court (established 2004) where it would blossom into one of the defining cases of the new court. In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Zaoui had to be released on bail and that the Inspector General must rule on Mr. Zaoui’s security assessment appeal. The court used inherent jurisdiction and broke with tradition by deciding the case themselves instead of returning the case to the High Court. More important, the Justices ruled that the Minister of Immigration had to take into account human rights when deciding whether to deport. In this case Mr. Zaoui faced the possibility of torture and the loss of life and liberty if deported to Algeria. Furthermore, the court noted that even if Mr. Zaoui was a security risk, he could not be deported if such actions would violate the protections under the New Zealand Bill of Rights, Convention Against Torture, or the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

Despite this decision the Inspector General did not revoke Mr. Zaoui’s security risk assessment until September 16, 2007. Although released on bail, for two years Mr. Zaoui was prohibited from seeking employment, endured a 10pm to 6am curfew, and was forced to reside at a monastery. And so goes the sometimes slow march of due process, five years too long, but far better than the alternative.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Comparative Justice Readings

The readings for Monday, 10/8, Comparative Justice, are stacked outside my office door (PUP 316). I will try to post them as PDF files as well.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Legal Advocacy Class Sept. 26

The plan today, September 26, was for you to watch the 2006 Mock Trial Championship. Apparently, there was a mix up and this did not occur. My sincere apologies for the inconvenience. We will pick up with our direct examinations on Monday. Feel free to e-mail me with questions.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Peru's Former President to Be Extradited

The Supreme Court of Chile ruled today that former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori will be extradited to Peru to face human rights charges. Like Pinochet, discussed in class, Fujimori allegedly used a secret squad of security personnel to eliminate his political enemies. Fujimori will face charges for ordering the "Colina Group" to kill 25 people during 1990 and 1991. As the International Herald Tribune observed, "The [extradition] ruling, which cannot be appealed, could set an important international precedent for extradition cases of former heads of state wanted for atrocities in other countries, according to human rights advocates." For more, read the IHT article or the Times of London story and see the Washington Office for Latin America for more background.

Judicial Reform in the UK

(Required for Comparative Justice Students)
When the Labour Party took control of British government in 1997 one of the reforms the party proposed was constitutional reform. The proposed reforms included abolishing the Lord Chancellor, creating a Supreme Court, and establishing an independent judicial commission to appoint judges. Over the last ten years the plan has crawled through the British political system meeting with strong opposition from the Law Lords. See this summary of the proposed plans and this UK Independent report on the response from the Law Lords. In the spring 2004, the Lords successfully defeated the reform plan as reported by the Guardian and the BBC, or at least delayed it for 10 years.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Convictions for Alleged War Crimes

(Required for POLI 337 Students)
In November 2005, Marine commanders in Iraq reported that one Marine and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by an insurgent bomb and small-arms fire in Haditha. According to their report, the Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding one. In March 2006, Time reported that the Marines responded to the bomb by killing 24 Iraqi civilians including women and children. According to Time, in part of the Marines response they "began firing, killing eight residents—including the owner, his wife, the owner's sister, a 2-year-old son and three young daughters." Since the military began investigating the incident only four Marines have been charged with the killings and none, to date, have convicted. Consider this NY Times report in light of our discussion of judicial independence, judicial review and judicial oversight of war powers. For more see this Human Rights Watch video report or this Democracy Now investigation.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Comparative Justice Assignments Posted

I have posted your Country Report and Writing Assignments on the course website (here). Please pick a country and date to give your oral report as soon as possible. You may e-mail me with your selection. Thanks.

Mock Trial Teams and Assignment

I've assigned the teams below. If you would like to change your assignment e-mail me and I will try to accommodate. These are likely to change before we compete.

Your assignment for Wednesday is to prepare a short oral summary of your argument. It should contain:
1. A statement of the result you are seeking. You may be specific or general here, but tell the judge/jury how you want them to rule.
2. Why you think that ruling is justified. Here identify the legal criteria that support the ruling you seek and the facts that support them. Be sure to name the three (3) witnesses you would call to support your case. You do not need to cite statutes and cases by name and number but you may if you wish.

Don't forget that our Monday classes will meet in PUP 354 from now on.

Here are the team assignments:



Chris M
Chris C

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Military Lawyers Object to Bush Torture Policies

On July 20 President Bush issued an executive order outlining the rules for interrogating terrorist suspects. In a conference, "Top military lawyers have told senators that President Bush's new rules for CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists could allow abuses that violate the Geneva Conventions." The language in the order that military lawyers and human rights groups object to prohibits "willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual." The concern is that the President's order allows interrogators to use "outrageous acts of personal abuse" as long as the purpose is to gather information. This would clearly violate the Geneva Convention.
The Boston Globe has more.
Also, see this Amnesty International report.
Take action on this issue.

Pakistan Supreme Court Allows Exile to Return

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that the chief opponent of Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, can return home from exile. In doing so the Court rejected arguments by the government at set the stage for an election confrontation between Musharraf and the man he overthrew in the 1999 coup, Nawaz Sharif. The decision is a sign of growing independence on the part of Pakistan's judiciary. The International Herald Tribune has more.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Here's the review post. Don't forget Hima's review at 5:00 today in the pre-law office. Here are the cases we covered. Remember principles of law we covered earlier may appear to the extent they are relevant to our current cases. Also, we discussed Lopez and Wickard in class:
US v. EC Knight,
NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin,
Heart of Atlanta v. US,
US v. Morrison,
SD v. Dole,
Slaughterouse Cases,
Lochner v. NY,
West Coast Hotel v. Parrish

Friday, May 11, 2007

Answers to the Writing Assignment

Did you wonder who Al Dreyfus, Ethel Rosenberg, and Leo Frank were ? Hash out the writing assignment issues here if you like.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Rehnquist Court by Herman Schwartz

The State’s Right Assault on Federal Authority:

The five conservative justices Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy show a strong adherence to states rights in theory, such as when it comes to Ronald Regan’s attack on the New Deal and other efforts to help ordinary Americans. However, when it came to Bush v. Gore these ideals were abandoned.

1. The court has struck down federal legislations
a. Federal government passed Child Labor Act, which was struck down in 1918 and again four years later when the federal government tried again. The federal government passed this law because states were unable to deal with this problem.
b. The New Deal
1. resulted in a large transfer of power to the federal branch with the many federal programs and agencies that were created.
2. enraged conservatives due to higher taxes, bigger government, and redistribution of wealth. the five member conservative majority struck down his policies for stepping on states rights
3. However conservative justices started to leave the court and the commerce clause and the post- Civil war Fourteenth Amendment were applied to justify New Deal policies.

2. Rehnquist takes office 1972
a. raised in a conservative family
1. and as a clerk a strong supporter of separate but equal doctrine. However, he denied these beliefs even though there is considerable proof showing this.
2. “It is about time the court faced the fact that white people in the south don’t like the colored people; the Constitution restrains them from effecting this dislike through state action, but it most assuredly did not appoint the court as a sociological watchdog to rear up every time private discrimination raised its admittedly ugly head.”
3. Upholds states rights in cases- National League of Cities v. Usery

3. 1991- 5 conservative justice majority: Thomas, Rehnquist, Kennedy, O’Connor, and Scalia.
a. delivered rulings that struck down federal gov’t from requiring that state officials implement federal law.
b. Struck down cases involving the commerce clause:
1. U.S v. Lopez- struck down federal law criminalizing possession of guns in a schools zone. Court struck it down because there was no economic transaction and there was no effect on interstate travel.

4. Broadening the Scope of the Eleventh amendment:
a. the court has developed a stated sovereignty doctrine where it allows states to prevent money damage suits against itself, even by its own citizens in state courts. This was never approved by the congress or written in the constitution.
1. Cases showing this: City of Boerne v. Flores and Employment Division v. Smith

5. The Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of the Executive Branch:
a. The supreme court has made increasingly difficult for citizens to challenge federal authority
1. In the freedom of Information Act the court is supposed to balance privacy rights against the public’s rights. However, the court has sided with privacy rights above the public’s rights.
2. The court has given considerable authority to businesses to sue complaining about overregulation. And it has held that the government should not be favored in these lawsuits.
3. The court has sided with the business when states try to apply more stringent policies than the federal government on businesses.

Monday, April 30, 2007


Post your questions here and I will answer them ASAP. See below for Hima's review session information.

Guantanamo Detainees Found Innocent Are Still Held

Military status tribunals have cleared eighty-two of the 385 inmates held at Guantanamo and yet despite their innocence they are still being held. According to a Washington Post article these detainees "face indefinite waits as U.S. officials struggle to figure out when and where to deport them, and under what conditions."

A new website has been launched to encourage congress to restore habeas corpus and other rights suspended in the Military Commissions Act. seeks to:

1. Restore habeas corpus and due process.
2. Pass the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.
3. End torture and abuse in secret prisons.
4. Stop extraordinary rendition: secretly kidnapping people and sending them to countries that torture.
5. Close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and give those held there access to justice.
6. Investigate wrongdoing and ensure those who broke the law are held accountable.
7. Restore American values and the rule of law

Friday, April 27, 2007

Supreme Court rules in Texas death penalty jury instruction cases

LaRoyce Smith's was sentaced to death, after his trial judge decided to withold special jury instructions that Smit had a low IQ and attended special education classes. The supreme court reversed this decision. However on remand, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to remand the trial judge's decision. The court held the lower courts decision to be unconstitutional and decided in two other cases, Abdul-Kabir v. Quarterman and Brewer v. Quarterman, that these were contitutionally relevant factors of a case.

Review Session

Monday 5:oo pm in the Pre-Law office.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Changes to Con Law Syllabus

Due to our extended discussion of Hamdan I have made some adjustments to the Con Law syllabus.

  • Quiz 5 will be on Tuesday, May 1 (not April 26).
  • I have revised our reading assignments - see here.

As announced last week the paper is due on May, 8. You must turn it in to and I do not need a hard copy. See the assignment for the information.

DC Circuit Upholds MCA

Required for Con Law Class
In Boumediene v. Bush (DC Cir. 2007) the DC Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Military Commissions Act (as we discussed in class) . In the opinion(pdf) two judges held that the provision suspending habeas rights for alien detainees was constitutional because aliens held outside the U.S. are not entitled to constitutional rights. One judge dissented arguing that Article I prohibits Congress from suspending the writ unless it finds that it is necessary to secure the peace during an invasion or rebellion. Congress made no such finding in the Act. The Supreme Court denied cert. Justice Souter took the unusual action of issuing a dissenting opinion(pdf) with Justice Ginsburg and Breyer joining.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Supreme Court Upholds Law Banning Abortion Method

Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read NYT article or opinion)
In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy the Supreme Court upheld a federal law outlawing "dilation and evacuation" or "partial birth" abortions. In 2000 the Court struck down a state version of the ban in an opinion written by Justice O'Connor. O'Connor's replacement, Justice Alito, joined the majority in upholding the federal ban. The Act upheld this week in Gonzales v. Carhart does not contain an exception if the procedure is conducted to protect the health of the mother. The Court ruled that this exception was not necessary because there is not a medical consensus that the procedure is ever necessary to protect the health of the mother. Kennedy argued that "the government has a legitimate and substantial interest in preserving and promoting fetal life" and this interest "would be repudiated were the court now to affirm the judgments" that struck down the law.

In the dissenting opinion Justice Ginsburg argued that the Court "applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists....And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health." She reflected that "One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus will hold in the face of the Court's 'moral concerns.' The Court's hostility to the right Casey and Roe secured is not concealed. Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists not by the title of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label 'abortion doctors.'"
Linda Greenhouse has analysis in the New York Times.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Class Action Study Guide - Internship Class

Here are some questions to think about as you finish up Class Action. We will begin discussing the book during the second half of class on Tuesday.

Consider how the case reflects the values of American society regarding justice and equality.

What does this case/book say about civil justice, the role of litigation and the role of government in promoting that justice?

What lessons does the case/book teach us about the practice of law? Are there lessons about public and private law practice here?

What does the case (or the book) teach us about how the US legal system provides access to justice?

What incentives and disincentives exist for plaintiffs to litigate claims like those discussed in the book?

What incentives and disincentives exist for plaintiffs’ counsel to litigate claims like those discussed in the book?

What is a class action lawsuit? What’s the purpose of a class action? What are the requirements?

Why did the plaintiffs sue under the laws they used (state and federal)? Why sue upper level company officials?

How did the union impact the case/story?

What was the defense lawyers’ strategy?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Free Practice LSAT- This Saturday

11 am in PUP 206, sponsored by Pre-Law Society.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Top Gonzales aide involved in US Attorney firings resigns

Monica Goodling, a key player in the U.S attorney firings, resigned from her post as an aid. Evidence shows that she was involved in several meetings planning the firings and was involved in a conversation with Senator Domenici about the topic. She announced through her lawyer that she would not answer any questions on this issue. In addition, she threatened to use her fifth amendment rights if she was subpoenaed.

Monday, April 9, 2007

New Hypothetical

I posted this in the comments below and thought some might miss it. Here's a little war powers hypo:

President Bush orders troops into Mexico to conduct targeted attacks on "centers of drug trafficking." Bush claims illegal drugs present a threat to national security. He reminds the American people that we still haven’t won the war on "drugs." Corporal O'Reilly refuses to go and is charged with desertion. O'Reilly claims the war is illegal. Mexico responds by invading New Mexico. President Bush orders the military to arrest all Mexican Americans in California and Texas and send them to Guantanamo. The ACLU sues on behalf of thousands of Mexican Americans detained without any due process or right to counsel. The parents of a Mexican American detainee also sue. How would the Court handle all of these issues?

EPA Case and Quiz Review

The online review discussion is posted in the comments section of Hima's post below.

Last week we discussed the Ma. v. EPA (pdf) Supreme Court decision. In that case the court ruled that Congress in passing the Clean Air Act ordered the EPA to regulate air pollution caused by new car emissions. So, unless the EPA could demonstrate scientifically that emissions were not air pollution it had to regulate - it had no choice. Consider this case in light of our discussion of delegating legislative authority (Mistretta) and in light of the MS v. Johnson case. See this NYT article on the case.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Individual appointment and study session

The group study session will be monday 5:oo pm in the pre law office. The pre law office is on the third floor of the PUP.

The people that sent me an email expressing interest in the individual study session MUST send me another email by sunday to set up an appointment. I will be tutoring students from 11-1 and 6:30-7:30 in the library lobby, if you would like to stop by for help.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Supreme Court declines to hear Guantanamo detainee habeas appeals

The U.S court of appeals for the D.C Circuit upheld the Military Commision Act denying habeas corpus to enemy combatants. The Supreme court declined to hear an appeal on this ruling. In order for a case to be heard there must be four consenting justices. However, on this appeal, only Ginsburg, Souter, and Breyer voted to hear the case.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Are the Guantanamo Tribunals Legal?

Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read at least two of the sources linked below).

Over the past weeks the U.S. military has announced several confessions by detainees before the Military Commission in Guantanamo Bay. Then, last week, an Australian detainee, David Hicks, plead guilty to assisting Al Qaeda. These developments raised additional questions about the legality of the Commissions and the treatment of the detainees:

1. Hicks plead guilty only after two of his lawyers were disqualified from representing him. The lawyers refused to sign a form pledging to abide by rules that the Dept. of Justice has not yet set. The UK Independent reports on the plea.

2. After his guilty plea, Hicks was sentenced to mere months in prison - despite a jury recommendation that he be given 7 years. The short sentence - to be served in Australia - was imposed after Hicks promised not to sue the U.S. and not to talk to the media for 12 months. The Post discusses the sentence here and some additional questions here and Reuters does so here.

3. The military lawyer representing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri told the Commission, "The detainee states that he was tortured into confession and once he made a confession his captors were happy and they stopped torturing him. Also, the detainee states that he made up stories during the torture in order to get it to stop."

4. Military defense lawyers and leading human rights groups argue the Commissions are illegal. Jennifer Daskal, advocacy director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch stated "The antics at the Hicks hearing underline the illegitimacy of the Guantanamo tribunals. The commission can’t even establish basic rules for lawyers representing the defendant." Amnesty International issued a report from the Commission proceedings and released video statements of Commission defense lawyers decrying the illegality of the proceedings.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Federal judge dismisses Rumsfeld torture lawsuit

A lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld filed by ACLU and Human Rights First was dismissed by the U.S District Court of Columbia . The lawsuit addressed his authorization of torture of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq by U.S forces. The law suit claimed that Rumseld violated the U.S constiution, international law, and federal statues. The judge dismissed the case on the grouds that the U.S constitution does not apply oversees; and Rumseld has immunity due his (former) status as a government official.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Quiz Review

Post your questions in the comments section. The quiz will cover these cases:

SC v. Katzenbach
Clinton v. NY
Morrison v. Olson
Humphrey’s Executor v. US
US v. Nixon
MS v. Johnson
Clinton v. Jones
Goldwater v. Carter
Haig v. Agee

The quiz may also address the Court's transition from Watkins to Barenblatt. Some students have asked that I post this slide from the lecture presentation:

Foreign Affairs and the Court

•Article II of the Constitution grants the president the power to “with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, … make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls.”
•The president is also designated as Commander in Chief of the military and given the power to “receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers.”
•On the other hand Article III, Section 2 states that “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made….”
•Courts have authority over “all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies…between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.”
•Indeed the Framers believed cases involving international relations to be of such importance that they granted the Supreme Court original jurisdiction “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls….”
•There is nothing in the Constitution that allows the president to remove these cases from the jurisdiction of the federal judiciary.
•The determination that the Constitution grants foreign relations power to the Executive Branch exclusive of the Judicial Branch, therefore, is a product of tradition and not the actual text of the document.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Guantanamo tribunals begin top terror suspect reviews in closed-door sessions

The Combatant Status Review Tribunals began to hear cases on suspects behind the 9/11 attacks to determine if they can be classified as enemy combatants. The hearings are closed to the media because of the threat of a possible leak of classified information. After studying declassifed information on the detainees, Joshua Denbeaux and Mark Denbeaux, Seton Hall law profesors, have conclued that the hearings are unlawful because the detainees cannot view evidence or have a lawyer present.

Review Session

The review session will be held on wed at 5:00 pm at the Pre- Law officer. We can re-locate depending on how many people attend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Libby found guilty in CIA leak trial

Libby was found guilty on four counts of obstruction of justice and perjury. He could face up to thirty years in prison. The defense claims that they will appeal and requests that Libby remain free from jail until appeal. President Bush and Cheney expressed their disappointment with the verdict. However, it is not clear if President Bush will use his presidential pardon.;_ylt=Al25GZ3CFAQkDofSbNELVcWs0NUE

Quiz Review- individual appointments

If you would rather meet on an individual basis for help, send me an email at Please only do this if you need more help than the review sessions can provide.

Monday, March 5, 2007

"It's not Charity, It's Justice"

Watch this:

And then click this:

Supreme Court Issues Two Decisions

Required for Con Law Students (Read Jurist Stories)
In Lance v. Coffman(pdf) a per curium court ruled that Colorado voters did not have standing to challenge redistricting system imposed by the State Supreme Court. The voters argued that the Court imposed system violated Article I's requirement that state legislatures establish the "time, place and manner" of holding elections. The Court ruled that they were litigating an "undifferentiated, generalized grievance about the conduct of government that we have refused to countenance in the past."
In Sinochem Int'l Co. v. Malaysia Int'l Shipping Corp.(pdf) the Court unanimously ruled that federal district courts do not need to decide threshold jurisdiction questions before dismissing cases on other grounds. Jurist has more.
The Court also refused to expedite consideration of the petition for cert in the Hamdan challenge to the MCA.

Free Practice LSAT

Kaplan is holding a free practice LSAT this saturday the 10th. Please sign up and get more details at the below link. If you can't access the link just go through the Kaplan website.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

White House approved US Attorney firings

Eight U.S attorneys that were investigating corruption among Republicans were fired by the Bush Administration and the Justice Department in December. The administration claims that the attorneys failed to follow the presidents orders in firearms and immigration policies. In addition, the administration announced that members of the congress were dissatisfied with their performance.

New Mexico Senator, Pete V. Domenici, admitted that he had urged the dismissal of one of the attorneys, David C. Iglesias. The Republican senator also confirmed accusations that he had called Iglesias to inquire about a corruption investigation centered around democrats. However, he denied putting any pressure to speed up the investigation before the elections. Nevertheless, Iglesias maintains that he was pressured by Deomenici, Pearce, and Wilson to speed up the investigation before the elections. He further adds that the refusal on his part to speed up the investigation resulted in his dismissal.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Secret CIA Prisoners Disappeared

Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read Human Rights Watch Press Release)
Human Rights Watch, a highly respected non-partisan human rights group, published a detailed report identifying 38 people who were held in CIA black sites and are still missing. The report titled “Ghost Prisoner: Two Years in Secret CIA Detention,” includes a detailed description of a secret CIA prison given by a former detainee released from custody last year. In a letter to President Bush(pdf), HRW called on the President to account for the whereabouts of the "disappeared" prisoners. In its press release Joanne Mariner, the terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch, stated:
The CIA program – and the civilian leaders who created it – have inflicted tremendous harm on the reputation, moral standing, and integrity of the United States. It’s time for President Bush to repudiate this program, and to take steps to repair the damage it has done.
See also this BBC report.
Take Action through Amnesty International, and through Human Rights First.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Study Group

This is for the people that attended the study group. Some of your email addresses wouldn't work, so if you didn't get my email that's why.

Con Law Quiz Review

Post your questions here and Hima and I will try to answer as many as possible throughout the day. Hima's review session will be in PUP 357 this afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Federal appeals court upholds MCA habeas-stripping provisions

President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act in October, which ordered the suspension of habeas corpus rights to any foreign national detainee labeled 'enemy combatant.' Recently, the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld this provision saying it does not "violate the Suspension Clause [Art. I, §9, cl.2 text] of the US Constitution." The case is expected to go to the Supreme Court.

You can read the entire case at

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Judge Orders Padilla's Military Jailers to Testify

Required for Con Law Students (Read Boston Globe Article)
Jose Padilla is an American citizen who has been detained for five years as an "enemy combatant." As Jurist stated:
Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and subsequently detained as an "enemy combatant" at a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Padilla, initially accused of planning to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States, was finally charged in November 2005 on unrelated counts.
The Boston Globe reported: "His lawyers say Padilla was tortured, drugged and psychologically damaged during the 3-1/2 years he was interrogated and held in "extreme isolation" at a military brig in South Carolina prior to being charged in the civilian court." Jurist has an archive of its media coverage. The Supreme Court's decision dismissing Padilla's case on procedural grounds can be read here (pdf).

Friday, February 16, 2007

House Opposes Bush Plan to Escalate War

Required for Con Law Students
The House of Representatives passed a resolution disapproving of the Bush plan to send more troops to Iraq. The measure passed 246-182 with 17 Republicans in support. See this UK Independent story or the Washington Post. HCR 63 Reads:
Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq. Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Italy Indicts 31 in CIA Abduction Case

Required for Con Law Students (Read WP or BBC Story)
Another European country is pursuing criminal charges against U.S. officials for abduction, rendition and torture. The Washington Post reports "A judge Friday indicted 26 Americans and five Italians in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect on a Milan street in what would be the first criminal trial stemming from the CIA's extraordinary rendition program." The BBC has additional coverage.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Testimony ends in Libby perjury trial

Both sides rested today on Libby's perjury trial. The court will hear closing arguments next tuesday and the jury should get the case by midweek.

The defense did not have Libby or Cheney testify, even though there was a great deal of debate regarding Libby's testimony. This decision could deal a heavy blow to the defense's case. In addition, the judge would not allow the testimony of CIA briefers that concerned classified national security issues. They were expected to explain that Libby misspoke due to national security matters.

The defense tried to explain their decision against Libby and Cheney's testimony after the jury left for the day. They claimed that Libby's testimony would not help the case and they did not need Cheney's testimony.

Justices Complain to Senate About Their Pay

Required for Con Law and Internship Students

Following up on Chief Justice Roberts' complaints last week, Justice Kennedy told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the pay for federal judges is far too low. As the AP reported:
"Federal district court judges are paid $165,200 annually; appeals court judges make $175,100; associate justices of the Supreme Court earn $203,000; the chief justice gets $212,100.... Kennedy said that '$160,000 sounds like a lot of money to the average American, and it is. But it is insufficient to attract the finest members of the practicing bar to the bench.'"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

UMBC is Closing at 4:00pm on Tuesday 2/13 - No Internship Class

Please be prepared to discuss the readings assigned for today (2/13) and for next week (2/20) during next week's class. We will have guest speakers next week as well. Your memo's are still due on 2/20. Feel free to ask questions regarding the memo's in the comments section of this post.

As Long as UMBC is Open, Class and the Quiz Will Take Place

Check the UMBC website for info on whether the university is closed. At this posting it is open.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Hey guys I'm sorry my internet was giving me a lot of problems so I couldn't get on exactly at 10. I've answered the questions that were posted and I will be up pretty late so you can continue to post questions and I will answer them. Again I'm really sorry.

Review Questions

What is the Guarantee Clause? Did the court in Baker overturn the decision concerning the use of the Guarntee Clause that was established in Colegrove? What was the courts decision in Baker?

How did Nixon define the word "try," and did the court agree?

Did the court provide Marbury a remedy? Explain why or why not

What is the differance between mootness and ripeness?

Which of the limits placed on the court was significant in McCardle?

Review Session

Hey guys, please enter any questions you have regarding the quiz in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to help you. Thanks.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Army officer won't ship out, faces court martial

Lt. Ehren Watada refused to go to Iraq because he feels that the war is immoral and illegal. In addition, he has spoken out against the war on several occasions: "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order." Watada's attorney argued that his speech was protect and that the war violated army regulations which state that wars must adhere to the United Nations charter. However, the military judge rejected both arguments.

First and Fourth Amendment Issue

In 2002 Thomas Leonard cursed while addressing a township meeting. The township officer arrested Mr. Leonard for the use of profanity. A lower court held that the officer was justified in arresting Mr. Leonard. However, the 6th US Circut Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts decision saying that the officers actions were not justified because Mr. Leonard did not pose a threat. Later on, Mr. Leonard sued claiming that his First and Fourth Amendment Rights were violated. However, the US. District Court held that the officer did have probable cause; so the charges were dropped. Mr. Leonard's attorney is working on an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Senate Investigates Firing of DOJ Lawyers

Required for Internship Class (Read WP Article).

A controversy has been brewing about the Justice Department's firing of several U.S. Attorneys. Democrats are alleging that AG Gonzales and the DOJ has replaced veteran U.S. Attorneys with Bush political supporters. The Washington Post referred to:
an escalating confrontation between the Justice Department and Senate Democrats over a wave of firings of U.S. attorneys, including six who were notified by Justice officials in December that they would be asked to step aside. The seventh, former U.S. attorney Ed Cummins of Little Rock, has said that he was asked to leave last year in order to give the job to Griffin, who previously worked for Rove and for the Republican National Committee.

Monday, February 5, 2007

US to Issue New Charges Against Hamdan & Others

Required for Con Law Students (Read Jurist Summary)

In one of our next classes we will discuss the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision. US military officials announced this week that they are filing new charges against Hamdan and several other Guantanamo detainees including an Australian and a Canadian. See this Jurist summary. Also, see the media reaction to the announcement in Australia and Canada. To take action on Guantanamo related issues see:

The Center for Constitutional Rights

Senators Demand Arar Investigation

Required for Con Law Students (Read Toronto Star Report).

On the first day of class I referred to the Arar case. Recall that Arar is a Canadian citizen who was detained by US officials at JFK airport and then flown to Syria where he was tortured for months. He has since been released without charges and Canada has cleared him of any ties to terrorist groups. The Toronto Star reported that :
The chair of a key Senate committee says he will ask the investigative arm of Congress to probe why Maher Arar remains on a U.S. terror watch list. Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont said he would direct the Government Accountability Office, the independent watchdog of Congress, to expand its ongoing probe of why names erroneously appear on watch lists to look into the case of Arar.... Leahy and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, met reporters yesterday after a promised briefing by U.S. justice officials. Both said they left the meeting with more questions than answers, but refused to respond when asked if they believed Arar constituted a threat to the U.S. and should remain on the list.
To take action on these issues check these websites:

Amnesty International USA
Human Rights First

For more see this Jurist summary.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

German Court Issues Warrants for CIA Agents

Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read WP Report)
The Washington Post reported that : "Prosecutors in the southern German city of Munich today obtained warrants for 13 CIA agents they say were involved in the kidnapping of a German citizen, Khaled el Masri." The article explained that:
The 13 C.I.A. agents have been charged with kidnapping and inflicting bodily harm on Mr. el Masri, who was abducted in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in December 2003. He has charged that he was drugged, beaten and then flown by the C.I.A. to a detention center in Afghanistan. Mr. Masri says he was held there for five months before the American government flew him to Albania and left him there.
El Masri is also suing the United States and the private companies assisting the CIA with transportation in its extraordinary rendition program in U.S. Federal Court. See the latest decision in the case here. More from the BBC.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Can the ICC Put Teeth in Human Rights Law?

The International Criminal Court announced today that it would prosecute Thomas Lubanga, for recruiting child soldiers during the Democratic Republic Congo's civil war. Advocates of the ICC argue that it has the potential to enforce basic human rights standards worldwide. While the Clinton Administration signed the Treaty of Rome creating the ICC, President Bush "unsigned" the treaty in 2001 and has opposed the ICC. See this BBC article on the Lubanga prosecution. One of the most important questions for those who study and practice law is whether and how the law can meaningfully confront the atrocities committed in conflict all over the world.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Warrantless Wiretapping

Required for Con Law Students (Read WP Article Linked Below)
The litigation over President Bush's warrantless surveillance program is a compelling case through which to examine many of our Constitutional Law issues. While the question of whether a warrant is constitutionally required is better left for Professor LaNoue's First Amendment Freedoms class, several issues remain:

1. Does the President have the power to order the Executive Branch to monitor telephone and electronic communication?

2. Do the courts have the authority to question the President's actions?

The ACLU convinced a federal court that the program was unconstitutional. (See the court's decision PDF). Then last month the Administration agreed to let judges on a secret court (FISA) review the surveillance orders. Now Administration lawyers are arguing that the ACLU case is moot (WP Article).

Welcome to Class

Welcome back Con Law and Internship students. I am going to experiment a bit with using a blog this semester. The purpose will be to point you to some compelling legal issues being fought out in the courts and in government. Your feedback is encouraged.