Bench Memos

Diane Wood vs. Barack Obama on Military Commissions

Supreme Court candidate Diane Wood:

In the related area of military justice, the principle is well established that extraordinary tribunals, such as military commissions, are not authorized to operate if the normal courts are open for business.

(Wood, “The Bedrock of Individual Rights in Times of Natural Disaster,” 51 How. L.J. 747, 750 (2008).)

President Obama in his speech yesterday: 

Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; they allow for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot always be effectively presented in federal courts.

I’ll leave for later why Obama is right and Wood is—very, very sloppily—wrong. 

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