So far my summer has been off to a busy start. First of all, I got my grades back and I’m happy to report that I’ve earned the right to continue onto my third year of law school. Yay for me and now it’s off to my summer semester.
The most of my worries – and I use that term lightly because I’m having so much fun – is moot court and law review. In case you haven’t figured it out by now I am a research fiend. I like it, I love it and I want some more of it. Moot court and law review are feeding my desire to keep my research skills sharp. Thus far the moot court brief is coming along, now I need to start putting my arguments into their proper shape now that the research is done. Law review is proving to be rewarding because I get spend all day on WestLaw. Yes, I know: NERD ALERT! That’s me.
Too, I get to spend more time looking across the legal world about the areas of the law that I love. Such as:
Federal Indian Law
An interesting blog post from TurtleTalk’s Matthew Fletcher discusses the current trend with the United States Supreme Court concerning Indian law cases now that Roberts is at the helm:
For the Roberts Court, Indian law cases are easy for a couple reasons. First, state government interests always trump tribal interests, and every case in which tribes defeat states strongly attracts the attention of the Court. The reverse simply is not true. It is my sense that the Roberts Court is happy to rest on the fact that state sovereignty is strongly protected by the text of the Constitution, and tribal sovereignty is not. Second, the long, complicated, and important history of federal Indian law and policy is utterly unimportant to the Roberts Court. Longstanding practice, legislative history, and simple Indian affairs history does nothing to persuade a majority of the Court, with only Justice Stevens paying much attention to it.
That’s not good news however I should have suspected as much with one half of the SCOTUS leaning to the right. Very fine legal history by Mr. Fletcher. We’ll wait and see how the SCOTUS decides (or declines) certain cases and its impact on Federal Indian jurisprudence.
The Tribulations of John Yoo
John Yoo, former federal attorney (in)famous for writing the “torture memos” is now being prosecuted by Jose Padilla, a convicted terrorist. Basically, Yoo writes memos to Bush & Friends saying that there is a legal basis for “enhanced interrogation” (not advocating that they should but just that it’s possible, in legal theory) and Bush & Friends implement these measures at places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. One such person victimized by these policies was Jose Padilla, a terrorist, who then brings a civil suit in the US District Court for the Nothern District of California for violation of his 5th Amendment rights. Why Yoo as the defendant? Because his memos were the basis for Bush & Friend’s actions which caused him harm. Naturally, Yoo files a motion to dismiss but it was denied and now this lawsuit is actually going to trial. As reported by the Wall Street Journal’s legal blog, Judge White of the ND of CA stated:
Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct.
Hint, hint Eric Holder. Does this lawsuit have merit? No. Is Yoo the real person that needs to be sued for Padilla’s harm? No. Does the Obama Administration need to open up investigation into possible human rights violations and go after the real parties in interest? Yes.
Obama’s Turn Around on Military Commissions
One of my current favorites of jurisprudence is Guantanamo Bay and the military commissions. It’s a fascinating area of the law if you ever want to look into it. Obama said he’d shut them down but then decided to re-open them. I’m not surprised in the slightest because it’s typical politician fluff: say one thing to get elected, do another when you are elected. Also, I think once Obama got into office and someone briefed him on the top secret stuff behind the War on Terror he had to change his tune. Maybe the commissions are a great idea but Bush’s execution of them was wrong. Maybe that’s why Glenn Greenwald, blogger on Salon.com, labeled these new tribunals the “kinder, gentler military commissions”:
There is simply no way to reconcile Barack Obama’s embrace of military commissions with the core criticisms made about Bush’s system. Just consider what was said in the past about Bush’s military commissions by key Obama officials, Bush critics generally and, on occasion, even by Obama himself, and decide for yourself if this is anything other than a replica of one of the worst and most extremist abuses of the Bush era.
The idea of having a place away from the mainland of the United States to determine who is a genuine threat to the United States and who isn’t is a great idea. It’s planning and execution, however was done with a neolithic disregard for due process – and that’s putting it nicely.
Take care and thanks for reading! I’m sure I’ll have more to gripe about as time passes, so I’ll talk at you later!