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.