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.