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Constitutional Scholar Cautions Against Bending the Constitution to Fight Terrorism 1 - 2 - 3

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“A terrorism exception does not have the promise of being a very finite exception to the constitution,” she warned. “Any war waged by terrorism, if it is a war, is waged without delineation in time or space. And under those conditions an emergency linked to the concept of terrorism is inherently vast and potentially not confinable.”

Sullivan acknowledged that the constitution is to some degree at the discretion of the president, but criticized the current administration’s use of military internment to expand that discretionary power, violating the rights of some American citizens.

“The constitution is not a thing, it’s a spectrum. It has a law part and a discretionary part, and the attempt by the Bush administration has obviously been to push as much as they can that’s ambiguous into the military part of the spectrum, a truly extravagant litigating posture which has taken place with respect to the mixed group of people called enemy combatants,” she said, noting with approval that the Supreme Court had rejected the administration’s position.

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