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Sunday, March 02, 2008

An unlikely blogger

Mark Bittman has this piece in today's Times about his effort to observe a "secular Sabbath" - - a day free of (among other things) email and internet.  He describes his fight against the temptation to check his email just before sleeping and immediately upon waking, as well as his frustration at reading the news without hyperlinks.  As I begin this guest-blogging stint, I must give full disclosure:  I am the antithesis of Bittman.  No need for me to institute a "secular Sabbath," as I check my email infrequently on weekends and prefer my newspaper in hard copy.  Needless to say, I don't fit the profile of a typical blogger.  Nonetheless, I look forward to these next few weeks at PrawfsBlawg.  Who knows?  By the end of it, I may find myself having to institute a "secular Sabbath."

Posted by Amy Barrett on March 2, 2008 at 09:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Did Omar and Munaf Just Become the Same Case?

Over at Opinio Juris, Kevin Heller has news of an immensely important development -- the Iraqi Court of Cassation's reversal of Mohammed Munaf's conviction by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (the "CCC-I"). Munaf's habeas petition is one of two brought by U.S. citizens detained in Iraq set to be argued before the Supreme Court later this month (and in which I co-authored an amicus brief in support of the federal courts' jurisdiction).

Significantly, the distinction between Munaf and the other detainee -- Omar -- relied upon by the D.C. Circuit was Munaf's conviction by the CCC-I... the lower courts concluded that, where the U.S. citizen-detainee had not been tried and convicted (Omar), there was jurisdiction; where he had, there wasn't (Munaf).

If Munaf's conviction has now been reversed, that has the potential to change the whole complexion of the two cases; now, both present a challenge to "pure" executive detention, without the wrinkle added by Munaf's conviction (subsequent to the filing of his habeas petition). Indeed, Munaf's almost becomes the stronger case, since his, unlike Omar's, is not in the posture of a grant of a preliminary injunction...

How will the government respond? Will the Supreme Court now just decide Omar, and vacate and remand Munaf for further proceedings not inconsistent therewith?

One thing is for sure: If this all pans out, the reversal of Munaf's conviction serves to reinforce the deep flaws in his trial in the first place, and the reason why federal judicial review of his detention via habeas was--and continues to be--so critical in his case.

Posted by Steve Vladeck on March 2, 2008 at 09:00 PM in Article Spotlight, Constitutional thoughts, Current Affairs, Steve Vladeck | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

How important is seeing a candidate (or a rock band) live?

With thanks to Dan et al. for the repeat invite, I plan to spend my Prawfs time talking about politics (though I likely won't be able to completely leave out my blog love for Sentencing Law & Policy or Law School Innovation).   Because I am in Ohio — and because I am teaching for the first time this semester a novel Legislation course — I have few professional or personal moments these days without political dimensions.  Indeed, both my work e-mail and my home answering machine have been filled with political messages nearly every day over the last two weeks.

Because the 2008 campaign is fascinating, I am not complaining about all the politicking.  Joyfully, most candidate ads on TV these days are more uplifting then scary; I am actually eager to have my kids see the ads during breaks in American Idol.  And I am having a lot of fun deconstructing the candidate's efforts to present themselves in a certain light.  (Consider, for example, this long video on John McCain's website; it seems like it was produced by the History Channel because 95% of the video is focused on events that are more than 35 years old.)

Today, remarkably, I have the chance to see both of the Democratic candidates live in town hall events at nearby local high schools.  Though I already know how I am going to vote on March 4, I am still eager to see both candidates in action (especially because traditional media do not cover town-hall Q&As as effectively as debates and stump speeches).  Still, however the candidates perform, I deeply doubt that anything I see or hear — either good or bad — will change my vote or views.

So, I am asking myself, why am I going?  One reason is to experience the moment: I want to see who else attends and watch others respond to the candidates.  Another reason, I think, is to be able to tell friends and colleagues that I was there.  In the end, I have concluded that seeing a national candidate live is a lot like going to see rock bands live — though their recorded music always sounds better, the live experience is more multi-dimensional and more memorable. 

Posted by Douglas A. Berman on March 2, 2008 at 09:42 AM in Law and Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack