Joel Grossman, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins and an expert on the Supreme Court and constitutional law, says that the Bush administration's order establishing military tribunals is unconstitutional, although he concedes that the high court historically has been reluctant to intervene in times of armed conflict.
Writing for "Find Law's Writ," Grossman states, "There are several reasons why the plan for military tribunals is more than merely 'careless with the Constitution.' The preamble to President Bush's executive order reveals some very dubious claims that executive authority, either alone, or pursuant to acts of Congress, allows the creation of these tribunals.
"In fact," Grossman continues, "neither the President's commander-in-chief status, nor whatever inherent powers the Constitution allows him, nor any act of Congress, has properly authorized these tribunals."
Unlike military tribunals established by President Roosevelt during World War II, the Bush tribunals have been created without approval from Congress, said Grossman, and they send a dangerous message. "Treating citizens and non citizens in such dramatically disparate ways undercuts our tradition of treating all persons equally before the law. ... The Department of Justice motto that, 'The government wins when justice is done,' seems to have been replaced by, 'The government wins when convictions are certain.'"
Grossman, a scholar with more than 30 years of experience studying the Supreme Court and its decisions, is available for interviews. To set up an interview, please call 410-516-7160.
To read Grossman's commentary in full, please see writ.news.findlaw.com/commentary/20011129_grossman.html.
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