Judge Feldman tried to draw comfort from the fact that Windsor did not employ the magic phrases “intermediate scrutiny” or “heightened scrutiny.” I would liken that comfort to saying that it’s anybody’s game with two out at the bottom of the ninth inning when the score is 20-0.
Posts Tagged ‘due process’
Due process is flexible, in light of the circumstances. But what kind of meaningful trial could U.S. citizen and terror suspect Anwar Awlaki have received if the government were allowed to kill him first, and try him afterwards? Once you concede Awlaki had a due process interest in his life – and one always has a due process interest in one’s life – then a post-deprivation trial must by definition have failed the due process test. That test never yields a result where the amount of due process owed to the private citizen is zero, both before and after deprivation of the due process interest. That’s why death penalty appeals are so long and tortuous: if you don’t get it right before you execute the defendant, there is no opportunity to correct it.
From the Normandy invasion in June 1944 to October 1944, there were 152 U.S. rape trials by court martial in the European Theater of Operations; in 139 of those cases the defendants were “colored.” In the years 1944 and 1945, 29 GIs were hanged for rape; of them 25 were African Americans. And the U.S. invasion force was 90% white. This begs the question what on earth was going on.
For the moment, we already have something semi-substantive. We should have had it long ago. This is not Kafka’s Mitteleuropa. It’s our government and our information. We should not have had to wait for leakers to get our hands on it.
We can all agree that historical understandings of the dividing line between war and law enforcement do not fit well the kind of conflicts our nation faces today. But the solution to that quandary should not be to cede all discretion to an Executive that works in the shadows. There are other unaddressed needs at work, among them the imperative to cut the public in on the discussion and the decision-making.
When, at his confirmation hearings, Chief Justice Roberts claimed his job was just calling balls and strikes, he was being disingenuous. The very concept of balls and strikes presupposes a strike zone, and constitutional interpretation is full of competing strike zones. In fact, there aren’t even reliable rules for choosing among these strike zones.
And here is the moral, strategic, and tactical problem: How we can expect the world to accord full faith and credit to that court’s eventual verdict when we establish and countenance tribunals that are themselves human rights violations? A question urgently worth pondering.
But we had better be prepared for the consequences. Someone, somewhere, is going to try us, quite seriously, for war crimes. And somewhere else, someone is going to commit war crimes against our soldiers because we fail to recognize their own combatants as POWs. And it won’t be pretty.
Laws lots of people support and lots of people disagree with. How you do or do not comply helps determine how legitimate these laws are.