Advancing a Free Society

Justice Breyer on Korematsu and the Guantanamo Cases

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This afternoon, the Brookings Institution was honored to host Justice Stephen Breyer for a lively discussion, which I moderated, on his new book: Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View. The full audio is available on the Brookings web site. This brief video clip, however, seems to me of special interest to Lawfare readers. Justice Breyer’s book, among many interesting themes, argues strongly for judicial consideration of the consequences of different available interpretations. The book’s final substantive chapter deals with the Guantanamo cases. So I asked Justice Breyer about the consequences of the court’s decision to assert jurisdiction over Guantanamo. Wasn’t the chief consequence to guarantee that no detainee would ever be brought to the facility again but would be held instead in facilities further away from the United States and more out of sight? Wouldn’t the same instinct that caused the Bush administration to bring people to Guantanamo in the first place–the desire to evade judicial review–now guarantee that subsequent administrations keep people away from Guantanamo, preferably in the hands of foreign proxies over whom the courts have no conceivable jurisdiction? What is the consequence of having a strong rule of law norm at one particular location and no comparable rule applicable elsewhere?

Continue reading Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare