Category Archives: Constitutional Law

RWU Law Event: Surveillance & Civil Liberties

The Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education and the Pro Bono Collaborative at Roger Williams University School of Law are sponsoring an event on Monday, October 21st at 4:45pm in Room 262 of the Law School entitled Surveillance & Civil Liberties featuring Shayana Kadidal.
Shayana Kadidal is senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In his twelve years at the Center, he has worked on a number of significant cases arising in the wake of 9/11, including the Center’s challenges to the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (among them torture victim Mohammed al Qahtani and former CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan), which have twice reached the Supreme Court, and several cases arising out of the post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps. He was also counsel in CCR’s legal challenges to the “material support” statute (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, decided by the Supreme Court in 2010), to the low rates of black firefighter hiring in New York City, and to the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program. Along with others at the Center, he currently serves as U.S. counsel to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange. On behalf of plaintiffs including Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and other journalists, he led litigation that ultimately resulted in public release of over 550 previously-withheld documents during the court-martial of Pvt. Bradley Manning.

You can RSVP by emailing FeinsteinCenter at RWU dot edu.

SCOTUS to determine whether Insanity Defense is a Constitutional Right

The Washington Post has an interesting article about an Idaho shooter who wants to claim an insanity defense in a state – Idaho – that is 1 of 4 states that does not recognize the defense.  Now, he is appealing to the SCOTUS and asking for his right to make an insanity defense be deemed a constitutional right:

Delling’s lawyers are now at the Supreme Court, asking the justices to rule that the Constitution mandates that such a defense be available for those who, because of mental illness, are not responsible for the mayhem they create.

“For centuries, the moral integrity of the criminal law has depended, in part, on the insanity defense,” Stanford law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher wrote in a petition on Delling’s behalf.

Punishment is traditionally justified on the basis of an individual consciously choosing evil over good, Fisher wrote. “Laws such as Idaho’s abandon that basic tenet,” he said.

Fisher contends that Idaho’s law violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process of law, as well as the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

All states and the federal government once allowed the insanity defense. But that changed with the public outrage over John W. Hinckley Jr.’s acquittal for reasons of insanity in his assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.