Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Monday, January 11, 2010

Congress Should Stop Trial in New York City

Our Founding Fathers foresaw the probability that power-hungry men would try to take over the judiciary. So, in the United States Constitution, they gave us the tools to maintain a government based on the separation of powers.

President Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, announced he will move the trial of the confessed 9/11 terrorist mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, known as KSM, from a military court (where he ought to be tried) to a civilian court in New York City. Even worse, the plan is to reward this terrorist with all the constitutional rights of any ordinary U.S. citizen accused of an ordinary crime. KSM fits the statutory definition of a terrorist: "unlawful enemy combatant" who engaged in premeditated, politically motivated violence against noncombatant targets. KSM is not a U.S. citizen and he was arrested outside the United States.

The Constitution gives Congress the power to override this outrage. Congress can and should prevent this travesty, and the sooner the better. Congress can do this in a one-sentence law that says: "Federal District Courts shall have no jurisdiction over any case involving unlawful enemy combatants..."

Nothing is new or irregular about Congress limiting the kinds of cases that federal courts are permitted to hear. The Constitution, Article III, Section I, states: "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. A long historical record, starting with the great Chief Justice John Marshall, conclusively proves that Congress has the power to regulate and restrict court jurisdiction, that Congress has used this power repeatedly, and that the courts have accepted it.

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