Saturday, May 01, 2004

Picturing Inference

I have been doing some more thinking about devices for picturing problems of evidence and inference in legal settings. Please see Picturing Inference. Am I on the right track?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Gulfstream Witnesses

At one point during today's oral arguments Justice Scalia asked if a Gulfstream jet ought to be sent to Aghanistan to retrieve witnesses for possible hearings on the legality of the detention of persons alleged to be enemy combatants.

I was under the impression that the US. military still has some transport aircraft of its own. Be that as it may, do you agree with J. Scalia that the thought that aircraft should be used to procure the attendance of witnesses at hearings in which human liberty is at stake is absurd? (The answer depends on your priorities, I suppose.)

Evidence -- What An Inconvenience!

I think I heard one of the counsel for the U.S. government suggest today (in oral argument) that one proper reason for the President's right to funnel "enemy combatants" (including U.S. citizens) into some form of military or executive detention rather than into the criminal justice system was "evidentiary concerns." Do you think we can generalize this principle -- so that the government can imprison American citizens who are suspected of wrongdoing whenever the government concludes that it does not have sufficient evidence to convict the suspected miscreants?

P.S. I can see the Statue of Liberty from my apartment building in Jersey City. As I said in a message some months ago, the Statute of Liberty was the very first thing I saw in America when the Liberty Ship in which I was traveling brought me to these shores. I naturally keep thinking of Lady Liberty.

If we can shoot 'em, we can hold 'em?

Did I hear Justice Scalia embrace the following proposition during oral argument before the Court today?:

If the executive branch can shoot enemy combatants, it can detain them (as long as it wants and in any fashion it deems fit).

Justice Scalia and I went to different law schools -- or we got a different legal education. I was taught that the following sort of argument is not a valid syllogism:

The government can do X; therefore, it can do Y.

Stated less formally: The considerations that suggest that the military should be able to kill enemy combatants on the battlefield do not necessarily demonstrate that the government should be able to detain alleged combatants indefinitely or under any circumstances.


I think I also heard Justice Scalia suggest that the President could take any steps that he deems necessary and proper during this time of war(s).

Question 1: If so, could the President abolish the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. -- if he thought that doing so would promote the conduct of the war(s)?
1A. If so, would Justice Scalia resign?
Question 2:Could the President seize steel mills (or computer companies) if the President thought that doing so is necessary for successful prosecution of the war(s)?

More questions: Mosques in Detroit? Harvard Law School? The Supreme Court? (A wag might suggest that successive Presidents -- liberal and consrevative -- have largely accomplished the last objective.)