Saturday, May 10, 2008

Quiz 5 Review

Post your review questions here. The quiz will cover Hammer through West Coast Hotel.

More Problems with the Military Commissions

A military judge has refused to set a trial date for Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr until the government complies with his order to turn over logs of Khadr's detention. Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan. His military lawyers argued Khadr was tortured and that any statements he made as a result should not be admissible in his Commission trial. They claimed interrogators in Afghanistan threatened him with rape and abused him physically. One of Khadr's lawyers, Lt. Commander William Kuebler, stated "Picture a 15-year-old boy with those types of injuries being forced with his arms chained like this for extended period of time in Bagram, and think about the effect that would have on him and his willingness to co-operate with interrogators." The Toronto Star and Jurist have more details.

In another case a military judge barred Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann from having any more involvement in the first Military Commission trial. The judge ruled that Hartmann was aligned with the prosecution and therefore not neutral and unbiased. According to the NY Times, the chief Guantanamo prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis, stated "the general interfered in the work of the military prosecution office, pushed for closed-door proceedings and pressed to rely on evidence obtained through techniques that critics call torture."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Be the Change

We have hit some tough problems this semester - and your efforts are needed to solve these problems. You can do more than you think. As Robert Kennedy said:

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

So get involved...and here are some easy ways to do so:

Human rights and the treatment of U.S. detainees:

Extreme Poverty and the AIDS pandemic:



Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Con Law Updates

Quiz 4 scores are posted and the reading assignments have been updated on the online syllabus.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Post your quiz review questions here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Torture Authorized By Highest White House Officials - and President Bush

According to an ABC News report (video), "the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency." These officials approved "enhanced interrogation techniques" considered to be torture by many - including the U.S. Army Field Manual. According to the report "some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic." The senior officials involved were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee including "Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft." In response to the report President Bush told ABC News he knew and approved of the meetings.

At one point during these meetings Attorney General Ashcroft commented "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

Amnesty International
Human Rights First

Is U.S. Avoiding the Law by Trying Suspects in Afghanistan?

The United States has transferred approximately 50 detainees from its detention facility in Guantanamo Bay to U.S. funded prisons in Afghanistan.  There they are held indefinitely without any rights whatsoever.  This effectively circumvents Supreme Court rulings in Hamdi, Rasul and Hamdan that detainees are entitled to basic human rights protected in U.S. and international law.  Some of these detainees are being tried in secret Afghan military tribunals with evidence provided by the U.S.
See this International Herald Tribune story and this Washington Post story for more
Take action through Amnesty International.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Scalia Plays the Lyric

University of Baltimore
Spring Speaker Series: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
April 24, 2008

Time: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: The Lyric
Contact Name: Office of External Relations
Contact E-mail:
Join the University of Baltimore School of Law in welcoming United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to Baltimore. Justice Scalia will speak at 3 PM at the Lyric Opera House, located at 140 W. Mt. Royal Ave.

This event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required (see below for contact information). Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Please plan on arriving early to ensure a seat.

Parking is extremely limited for this event, but several mass transit options are available. Baltimore's Light Rail stops 2 blocks from campus (University of Baltimore/Mt. Royal stop). In addition, Baltimore's Penn Station is approximately 3 blocks from campus and is serviced by Amtrak and MARC trains.

To register online, click here. For more information, email

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Quiz 3 Review

Post your questions here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Post your review questions here.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Former Guantanamo Prosecutor to Testify for Defense

The former chief military prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay tribunals, Colonel Morris Davis, will testify on behalf of detainee Salim Hamdan. Last year, Davis resigned alleging that politics were driving the prosecutions at Guantanamo. In an interview Morris claimed that DOD general William Hayes told him that none of the Guantanamo detainees could be acquitted, suggesting that the tribunal system had predetermined outcomes. (Jurist story; AP story; UPI story).

In earlier reports in the New York Times
and Wall Street Journal Davis claimed that he was under political pressure to try cases in violation of commission rules and international law.

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Challenge to Wiretapping Program

The Supreme Court refused to hear the ACLU's challenge to the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance program (WP story). ACLU lawyers represented lawyers, journalists and others in challenging the legality of the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that none of the plaintiffs had standing because they couldn't prove they had been monitored. The Sixth Circuit's opinion in ACLU v. NSA is available here. The decision creates an ironic legal absurdity. By violating federal law and refusing to seek warrants the Bush Administration keeps the targets of its surveillance secret. And by keeping the targets secret they effectively prevent anyone from having standing to challenge the program in court. In other areas of law courts have ruled that when a defendant hides its illegal behavior it cannot avail itself to equitable doctrines preventing suit - like the statute of limitations for example.

Media Confuses Court Action

The Washington Post published a story last week titled "Court Rejects ACLU Challenge to Wiretaps." In the first sentence it claimed, "The Supreme Court rejected a challenge Tuesday to the Bush administration's domestic spying program." This simply is not the case. The Supreme Court merely refused to hear the case - expressing no opinion on its merits. Later the Post changed the first line of the story to read: "The Supreme Court yesterday declined without comment to hear the American Civil Liberties Union's challenge of the Bush administration's domestic spying program."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Quiz Review

Post your questions here and I will answer them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Attorney General Refuses to Say Whether Waterboarding is Torture

In a response to questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Mukasey refused to give an official opinion on whether waterboarding is torture. The attorney general stated that the practice is not currently being used, and therefore it would be "irresponsible" for him to judge its legality (AP Story). The U.S. Army Field Manual has prohibited waterboarding for decades. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International consider waterboarding to be torture. Amnesty responded to Mukasey's earlier statements on the issue here.

POLI 438 Syllabus Now Posted

The syllabus for the Legal Internship course is now posted. You can access it, and on the online readings by clicking the syllabus link.

Study Questions for Judiciary Section

Here are some questions to think about when reading the cases on the judiciary in constitutional law:

1. What power do the courts have?
2. What is judicial review?
3. What is the constitutional basis of judicial review?
4. What are the limits or checks on the power of the judiciary?
5. Where do these limits come from - what is their legal basis?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Con Law Syllabus Now Posted

You can find the Spring 2008 syllabus from the link on the left side of the page (or here).