In constitutional law we had probably the most stimulating class of the semester, which was too bad because I think most people were so busy with their memos they never go to do the reading.
For whatever reason con law starts to put most people to sleep about half through. Probably because I am a big picture kind of guy I stay pretty engaged the whole time (not true for all of my classes admittedly).
This time were talking about the legal battles involving the detainees at Guantanamo bay and the relevant legal precedent from the Civil War and World War II. Very relevant stuff.
One of the cases cited the Geneva Conventions. This really interested me as the direct application of international law in US courts is something I have been wondering about for a long time. I had asked professors about it before, but they always became very uncomfortable and didn't really want to talk about it.
In one of the cases plaintiff directly cited a breech in US obligations under the Geneva conventions as grounds for releasing an "enemy combatant." It was quick to reinforce it with US legislation, but the point is the same. On appeal, the Supreme Court avoided the question of whether US citizens could sue the US government for violations of the Geneva Conventions like it was the plague (just like my professors had). The lower court said a citizen could not, but the Supreme Court refused to deal with the issue.
All of this made me realize two things: 1. The really doesn't like to US international law in it s courts, if it uses it at all it uses elements worked into later US legislation 2. Most of my professors feel very out of their element when it comes to international law. Just made me realize why I am not always on the same page with my profs.
Personally, I think international law the US has owned up to should be grounds for suit in US court. I don't see things like the Geneva Conventions being much more than symbolic otherwise. If the US signs a treaty giving individual rights they should be able to sue if they think those rights are being violated.
Also, I liked this cartoon: