Gavel Grab

National Security Courts Re-enter the Discussion

Commander Glenn Sulmasy, a law professor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, wrote a column titled “A Hybrid Court Needed When Fighting a Hybrid War.”  

The column, which ran in New London, Connecticut’s The Day, raises once again the possibility of Congress creating a new system of courts that are “… a mix of our own Article III courts and the military commissions.”  Sulmasy goes on to argue that the “hybrid” nature of this conflict – a mixture of both military and law enforcement actions – calls for a mixture of our civilian and military courts.

This idea has been raised before: you can read an article calling for such courts in The Atlantic here, and can read an American Constitution Society blog entry condemning the idea here.  

While it seems clear that terror suspects do present unique challenges to our nation’s system of civilian courts, there is no evidence that these challenges are beyond the capacity of our current Article III courts.  In fact, the steady progress of Guantanamo detainees through the federal courts in the wake of the Boumediene decision argues quite convincingly that the courts are more than capable of handling difficult or unique detainee issues without compromising either the rule of law or our national security.

You can read Commander Sulmasy’s full article here.

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5/1/08 – The Return of Media Monitoring

US murky on judges’ role in reviewing Guantanamo Bay cases – The Associated Press
Article on the US government is making it difficult for Guantanamo detainees to have heir cases reviewed by judges.

Read more…

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2/26/08: Justice at Stake in Wisconsin; Canada Same-Sex Marriage vs.The U.S.;

Campaigns push finance reform – The Badger Herald
Coverage of the Judicial Campaign fight in Wisconsin, with our very own Bert Brandenburg.

Canadian same-sex marriage faces U.S. challenge – Time’s Colonist
An interesting case concerning whether the US should honor same-sex marriages from Canada is discussed here.

Judicial candidates keeping varied war chests – The Brownsville Herald
Lower court Judicial elections in Mississippi is bringing in a lot of contributions.

High court to hear local warrantless case – The Arizona Daily Star
SCOTUS will be look at a case from Arizona to determine the limits of police warrantless searches.

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2/5/08 – CA Judicial Election Suddenly Heats Up, Fed. Judge Rejects Bush's Waiver, Judges Work Second Jobs, MN Wants Change in Post-White Election World

Crowded field raises stakes in judicial race – The San Jose Mercury News
After Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger immediately filled a vacant judicial seat, two candidates running for the Santa Clara County Superior Court bench are suddenly competing for the same seat. Such a heated race was not expected.

Judge: Navy Not Exempt from Sonar Ban – Morning Edition – NPR
A Los Angeles federal judge has struck down President Bush’s attempt to waive environmental laws that require the Navy to take steps to protect whales. The move by the Bush Administration was criticized for attempting to usurp laws and for setting a dangerous precedent.

Extra Jobs Help Judges Stay Financially, Physically Fit – Texas Lawyer
After Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert’s appeal to raise federal judge salaries and Congresses first round of votes on pay raise legislation, Texas Lawyer has analyzes the disclosure reports for federal judges to determine that many are feeling economic pressures.

Editorial: Reform judicial elections this year – The Star Tribune
To protect judicial integrity and impartiality, the Star Tribune Editorial Board calls for judicial selection reform, especially in the post-White world of judicial elections.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/23/08 – GOP Primary Means Open Season on Judiciary, Special Interests in IL, WV SC Judge Investigates His Collegue, IA Gov. Lights a Fire Under the SC, Arson Charges Mysteriously Dropped for TX SC Justce

Fred Thompson Blasts Mike Huckabee on Abortion, Constitution Comments – Life News
Fred Thompson accused Mike Huckabee of using “code words for judicial activism”, to which Huckabee replied by stating he opposes liberal judicial activism and abhors the idea of unelected judges making decisions on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. And just so he didn’t feel left out, Mitt Romney made a statement that he, too believes that “unelected judges should not be the final arbiters on these important decisions which define who we are as a people.”

Lawyer’s deep pockets in Ill. judicial race raise hackles – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Cindi Canary of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform weighs in on the effects of special interest fundraising in judicial elections.

Justice Seeks Probe in Massey Case – The Associated Press
Justice Larry Starcher sent a memo to the West Virginia Supreme Court administrator regarding serious ethical concerns over Chief Justice Maynard’s relationship with the chief executive officer of Massey Energy Co.

Iowa Gov. Tells High Court To Speed Gay Marriage Ruling – 365 Gay
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver requests that the state Supreme Court expedite its ruling on same-sex marriage and announces that legislative action will be taken if the courts rule in favor of same-sex marriage.

Texas grand jurors outraged by politics of justice – The LA Times
The Texas jury that convicted Republican Justice David Medina last week of arson is speaking out now that District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, also a Republican, dropped all charges against Medina.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/18/08 – Judge Feels Duped in CIA Videotape Case, TX SC Justice Burned his Own House Down, Iowa Editorial Gets it Right, Breaking News: SC is Divided

Judge suspects CIA duped court in destroying tapes – Reuters
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, while hearing arguments in the CIA video tape destruction case, said he found it “hard to believe” the tapes did not produce any notes or markers that could have been turned over to the court.

Texas Supreme Court Justice indicted in arson of his Houston home – The Associated Press
Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife have been charged in an arson fire that destroyed their home in the Houston suburb of Spring last summer, their attorney said.

Judges need independence to protect everyone’s rights – The Des Moines Register Editorial Board
The Des Moines Register argues that judges must be allowed to make rulings based on the Constitution and not be pressured by the tyranny of the majority.

High Court divide threatens to deepen – USA Today
With a caseload stocked with controversial and heated cases, the U.S. Supreme Court is showing some signs that the divisions made apparent last year may deepen during the 2007-2008 session.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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1/17/08 – Same-Sex Marriage in Iowa Puts Pressure on Fair and Impartial Courts, NYTimes Editorial Board Sounds Off On SC Decision on NY Judicial Elections and Recusals in CA, More on WV SC Ethics Concerns

Gay marriage case looms over chief justice’s speech – The Sioux City Journal – Iowa
A potential storm is brewing in Iowa as Supreme Court Chief Justice Marsha Ternus gives her State of the Judiciary address, the Supreme Court ponders a pending same-sex marriage case, legislators debate a marriage amendment, and protesters demand a vote on the issue. Can the judiciary make a fair and impartial ruling in the midst of all the commotion? Check out articles from Radio Iowa, The Gazette and the Associated Press for more.

Sorry, The Judges Own Too Much Oil Company Stock to Hear Your Case – The New York Times Editorial Board
Four of seven justices on the California Supreme Court have financial ties to oil companies, which means that there are not enough justices to hear important cases relating to the oil companies.

Motion Ties W. Virginia Justice to Coal Executive – The New York Times
The New York Times reports on the ongoing saga of potential ethical violations by West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elliott Maynard and Massey Energy chief executive Don Blankenship.

A Defeat for Judicial Reform – The New York Times Editorial Board
The New York Times Editorial Board responds to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold New York’s judicial election system and calls the upheld system “unfair and undemocratic”.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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12/20/07 – PA Commission to Replace Mott; WH Lawyers Met w/ CIA About Tape Destruction; Las Vegas Called "Judicial Hellhole"

Democratic committee chair Gustin seeks judicial commission in Mott’s replacement – The Daily Review
Joan Gustin pushes for a “gubernatorial judicial commission” to select nominees for the vacancy created by Bradford County Judge John C. Mott’s retention loss in the fall election.

Clark County Debuts as a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ – KLAS News – Las Vegas
The American Tort Reform Association ranks the Clark County court system fifth worst in the nation, based attorney-judge relationships, judicial elections, low levels of recusals, and judicial misconduct.

Bush Lawyers Discussed Fate of C.I.A.Tapes – The New York Times
At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes. The tapes were destroyed despite a court order directing them to preserve all evidence.

Who should run justice courts? – The Salt Lake Tribune
The state’s Judicial Council, headed by Utah Supreme Court Justice Ronald Nehring, has proposed legislation to sever the perceived ties between judges and attorneys.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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JAS Daily News Monitor 12/19/07

U.S. judge orders hearing on destroyed CIA videos – Reuters
U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy schedules a hearing for Friday to investigate whether or not the Administration violated a court order by destroying CIA videos.

Judge: US Must Hold Hearings on Gitmo – The Associated Press
Military judge Navy Capt. Keith Allred ruled that the U.S. Courts must determine whether detainees are prisoners of war or unlawful enemy combatants, and that the decision can not be made solely through the military review process.

Ethics panel needs to let the public in – The Kansas City Star
The Editorial Board responds to The Missouri Ethics Commission and their closed door hearings on campaign finance reform.

Committee schedules another meeting on judge ethics – The Associated Press
Vermont’s The Judicial Conduct Committee will hold a special closed door hearing on Thursday regarding Superior Court Judge Patricia Coffey’s ethics violations.

Click here for more news on fair and impartial courts issues from the Brennan Center for Justice E-lerts.

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