Letter Criticizing Military Tribunals Garners Over 700 Signatures from Law Professors
A letter to Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, written by Yale Law School faculty and students about the use of military tribunals has been circulated among U.S. legal scholars. By the time the submission deadline for the Congressional Record closes on December 13 at 6:00 p.m., the letter writers predict that the number of signatures will exceed 700.
The text of the letter and the list of signers can be found at http://www.law.yale.edu/yls/etc-article.jsp?c_id=152
The purpose of the letter is to express concerns about President George W. Bush’s order establishing military tribunals for non-U.S. citizens suspected of terrorist activities. According to Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law and one of the principal authors of the letter, “We hoped to get to Senator Leahy some commentary by law professors…to bring up the question of the necessity, the wisdom and the legality of the order.” The letter emphasizes the historical adaptability and strength of the U.S. court system and points out that international terrorists have been successfully tried and convicted in federal courts. It also outlines specific constitutional problems created by the order, such as the violation of the separation of powers.
Another author of the letter is Harold Hongju Koh, the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, who was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor in the Clinton administration. Koh said, “This letter has tapped into a view deeply held by many that wasn’t being clearly expressed in the public debate.”
Among the first to affix their names to the letter at Yale were Professors Resnik and Koh; Bruce Ackerman, the Sterling Professor of Law; Paul Kahn, the Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and director of the Law School’s Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights; and the Schell Center’s Executive and Associate Directors, James Silk and Deena Hurwitz, respectively. Additional original signers include George C. Christie, the James B. Duke Professor of Law, Duke University Law School; Frank I. Michelman, the Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard Law School; and Mark V. Tushnet, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center.
The letter is intended to encourage “a deliberative process in which there is a consideration of other options,” said Resnik. “We should be as proud in displaying our commitment to fair process as we are in displaying our flag.”