Constitutional Scholars Voice Grave Concern at Court-Stripping Amendment

November 14, 2005

For Immediate Release
Monday, November 14, 2005

Contact Information:
Dorothee Benz, 212 998-6318
Aziz Huq, 212 992-8632

Constitutional Scholars Voice Grave Concern at Court-Stripping Amendment

Monday, November 14, 2005 A wide coalition of leading law professors today urged Congress to reject efforts to strip the federal courts of the ability to hear habeas corpus cases from the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The letter, signed by more than 350 law professors, came in response to the passage late last week of an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act by Senator Lindsey Graham. The Graham Amendment apparently seeks to cut off the cases filed by detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

This extraordinary effort began on Friday afternoon and quickly gathered steam. The letter explains that the Graham Amendment would dramatically erode our core constitutional commitment to separation of powers. The Amendment consigns the protection of fundamental human liberties to unilateral executive determination under which the Executive chooses the prisoners, chooses the charges, chooses the judges, chooses the punishment and cuts off judicial review of its determinations.

Among the signatories are many of the nations leading constitutional law scholars.

The initial signatories were Burt Neuborne, Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice and a law professor at New York University Law School, Frank Michelman of Harvard Law School, and Judith Resnik of Yale Law School. Other well-known signatories, all of them leading legal scholars, include Laurence H. Tribe, Bruce Ackerman, David Shapiro, Erwin Chemerinsky, and Ann-Marie Slaughter.

This is no run-of-the-mill legislative debate, said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center, which initiated and coordinated the release. Congress proposes to upend our constitutional order in a dramatic way. Thats why this letter has generated such interest so quickly from a broad cross-section of law professors.

For a copy of the letter and its signatories, contact Aziz Huq at 212-992-8632. To read the letter online, click here.