Rule of Law

  • January 29, 2018

    by Lisa Manheim, Associate Professor of Law, and Kathryn Watts, Jack R. MacDonald Endowed Chair, University of Washington School of Law 

    Over the course of the past year, a seemingly endless stream of questions have emerged concerning what the law does, and does not, allow the President of the United States to do. For example, can the president build his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border? Can he impose a “shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States? Can he rollback various Obama-era environmental regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan? Can he fire Robert Mueller?

    Notably, these sorts of questions are being asked not only by lawyers and others in the legal arena. They are being asked by people all across the country.

    In response to these types of questions, we wrote a guide aimed at a general audience that provides a crash course on the laws that both empower and limit the President of the United States. That book, The Limits of Presidential Power: A Citizen’s Guide to the Law, is now available. We hope that our book provides an accessible and understandable guide to the what, why, and how of the laws that both govern the president and empower citizens.

  • December 15, 2011
    Judges Under Fire
    Human Rights, Independent Judges, and the Rule of Law
    Hon. Harold Baer Jr.

    By Harold Baer Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York

    As we watch the Arab spring unfold and hear the depressing stories of how the People’s Republic of China deals with human rights, Judges Under Fire: Human Rights, Independent Judges, and the Rule of Law becomes a must read. It provides insights into how the Rule of Law and an independent judiciary have fared over the last 300 years around the world. More to the point, it demonstrates what happens when judges and citizens lose track of the vital tenets to which the book is devoted.

    On that score, one can’t help but wonder how some of the newly liberated countries will fare. Will they ensure that the Rule of Law is a part of their rebirth? How sad it will be if countries like Egypt and Libya slip back into anarchy. My book provides the reader with stories of how easy it could be for that to happen, both in older established countries as well as in fledgling republics. It supports the proposition that without the Rule of Law and an independent judiciary, democracy as we know it cannot survive. It is this proposition that we must bring to the attention of the leaders of these newly liberated countries.

  • February 1, 2010
    Guest Post

    by Maj. (Ret.) Eric Montalvo, Esq., Founding Partner, The Federal Practice Group Worldwide  Service

    On January 20, 2009 the world changed for a moment. President Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. He became the first African American to hold this office and one of his first acts as President was to publish the now infamous "transparency memo" on January 21, 2009. This memo highlighted three key policy objectives: 1) government should be transparent; 2) government should be participatory; and 3) government should be collaborative.

    This promise of transparency is at best illusive. On January 22, 2010, almost one year to the date that this memo was published, the Obama administration announced that it would be implementing a policy of indefinite detention for 50 or so Guantanamo Bay detainees. The President has decided to travel upon this path in part to "cover up" our use of "harsh interrogation techniques" and intelligence gathering procedures. In theory, the evidence obtained through these techniques cannot be used to successfully sustain a conviction.

    If the techniques are that egregious, the President should grant immunity to those who engaged in such conduct so that closure can be obtained and this sad chapter in American history can be closed. Disclosure of the torture techniques that are purportedly no longer sanctioned can cause no harm. If the concern is incitement of the enemy, then the government can pursue National Security Courts or remit the persons to others jurisdictions to be investigated for their alleged war crimes and/or civil crimes.

  • May 15, 2009
    Guest Post

    By Michael Foote, a prosecutor in Colorado and a Principal of the Truman National Security Project

    When the United States government uses the rule of law, it wins.

    The Department of Justice faced no shortage of criticism when prosecuting seven Miami-area residents who pledged allegiance to al Qaeda and plotted to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings around the country. Critics claimed it cost too much, or the defendants were not really serious about committing terrorist acts. Some even thought the accused were merely amateurs not worthy of government attention. After three trials and two defendant acquittals, even the critics have to acknowledge that five of the plotters are now convicted of providing support to a terrorist group.

    For those of us who advocate the use of criminal prosecutions against terrorists, the Liberty Six convictions should be celebrated, not derided. The government used a civilian court to convict five individuals who wanted to join al Qaeda. It was the latest in a long line of successful preventive prosecutions against those who plot harm against the United States.