JAS: President Affirms Constitution's Protections in War and Peace

Justice at Stake said on Thursday it was encouraged by President Obama’s affirmation, in a speech on on national security and counterterrorism policy, that the Constitution’s protections define us as a nation and do not vanish in a time of war.

“For over two centuries, the United States has been bound together by founding documents that defined who we are as Americans, and served as our compass through every type of changes.  Matters of war and peace are no different,” Obama said.

Some highlights of Obama’s remarks as they involve the courts and judicial review are found in an earlier Gavel Grab post. Praveen Fernandes, JAS director of federal affairs and diversity initiatives, responded to these remarks in a statement.

JAS  commended Obama’s commitment to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of warzones. “The President acknowledged that the targeting of American citizens raises significant constitutional concerns,” Fernandes said. “Leaders from both parties and all three branches of government need to grapple seriously with what the Constitution demands in terms of due process and other protections.”

In addition, JAS praised Obama’s commitment to closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and assuring judicial review for every detainee.

“Meaningful judicial review must be available for every detainee,” Fernandes said. “As plans are made for moving detainees away from Guantánamo, a strong preference should be expressed for trying detainees in federal courts rather than military commissions.  Our nation’s federal courts have a proven record — and certainly a much stronger record than military commissions — in the area of trying terrorism suspects while providing the sorts of protections that are central to our nation.  Entrusting our civilian justice system with such tasks honors our nation’s deepest values while keeping our nation safe.”

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