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June 11, 2002

Right to Jury a "Suicide Pact"

When did trusting democracy and a jury become a luxury, a nice toy that cannot be trusted with "serious" cases?
...The new suspect, Abdullah al-Muhajir, held on charges of plotting to set off a "dirty bomb" is being held as an "enemy combatant" likely to face a military tribunal. Yet he's an American citizen.
...Even some liberals see no problem. Laurence H. Tribe, ur-liberal at Harvard, states blandly, "It is a source of concern, but the constitutional question it presents is deeply perplexing, given that the Constitution is not a suicide pact."
...So maintaining the basic check on tyranny, the jury trial, is now casually written off as a "suicide pact" ?
...The argument that jurors would be more willing to see their families irradiated by a dirty bomb is senseless. But they might be more willing to question government malfeasance, which is the point of a jury check on government prosecution.
...Any country can respect constitutional rights when life is calm, but all of the US's bluster about human rights around the world becomes ash if we sacrifice our own the second we face real enemies. Most of the countries we condemn - Iran, North Korea, Iraq - all face domestic enemies who would like to destroy their governements. So does that give them a pass on civil liberties as well?

Posted by Nathan at June 11, 2002 06:04 AM

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