Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Professor Alito: on the frontier of law

"In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Seton Hall University Law School students clamored to sign up for a new seminar titled 'Terrorism and Civil Liberties.' Besides the timely topic, the limited-enrollment class had a professor of some prominence: U.S. Appeals Court Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.

"Alito's nomination last week for the Supreme Court means that his former students gained far more than legal education. Two hours a week, for 14 weeks, they witnessed the workings of Alito's legal mind on a crucial frontier of law he will help define if he is confirmed: the tension between individual constitutional rights and what President Bush calls the war on terror. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a constitutional challenge this spring to the Bush administration's use of military tribunals to try foreign terrorist suspects.

"There was no hint, Alito's former students said, that he had resolved the tension in his own mind—only that he was wrestling intellectually with it. He told them the course was an academic exercise for him as well as them because there is little guidance in the Constitution or case law for where executive power ends and civil liberties begin in times of national emergency." ...

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