AG Holder Blasts Efforts to Politicize Terror Trials

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Calls on ACS Convention Attendees to ‘Replace Fear-Mongering with Facts’. Complete Video of Holder Address Available.

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"Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute – and this is true for every case, whether it involves brutal terrorists or white collar criminals – must be made by prosecutors, not politicians.”

Speaking before a packed opening night crowd at the Tenth Anniversary American Constitution Society (ACS) Convention, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder assailed the efforts by some in Congress to politicize the justice system through a ban on the use of civilian courts in terror-related trials.

“[P]olitics has no place – no place – in the impartial and effective administration of justice,” Holder said. “Decisions about how, where, and when to prosecute – and this is true for every case, whether it involves brutal terrorists or white collar criminals – must be made by prosecutors, not politicians.”

Holder delivered his address to more than a thousand lawyers, judges, scholars, law students and policymakers during the opening gala dinner at this year’s ACS National Convention, “Constitution at the Crossroads: Progress Imperiled?”

He called on ACS members and other progressive allies to work collectively to “reestablish our nation’s moral authority” and “replace fear-mongering with facts” about the crucial role the civilian justice system has played in addressing the war on terror.

“Here are the facts,” he said. “Every single suspected terrorist captured on American soil – before and after the September 11th attacks – has first been taken into custody by law enforcement – not the United States military. … Since 9/11, hundreds of individuals have been convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses in civilian courts. Not one of these individuals has escaped custody. Not one of the judicial districts involved has suffered retaliatory attacks.”

Without civilian law enforcement and courts, “our ability to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat terror plots; to secure actionable intelligence; to enlist international cooperation; and to punish those who have – and who intend to – harm Americans would be seriously damaged,” he added.

Holder also touted the revitalization of the DOJ’s civil rights division, noting that the Department filed a record number of civil rights criminal cases over the past two years, and the new Access to Justice Office, which “reflects an historic assurance that, at long last, expanding access to legal services is – and will continue to be – a national priority.”

Video of his address is available here.

In separate remarks at the opening night banquet marking ACS’s ten-year anniversary, ACS Executive Director Caroline Fredrickson challenged those who would misrepresent the Constitution for political purposes.

“We are challenging the right wing’s effort to undermine our Constitution through misleading theories like originalism and hypocritical terms like strict construction,” Fredrickson said. “Today’s right-wing movement has been re-energized by Tea Party activists, who have wrapped themselves in the Constitution. But we all know the Tea Party does not truly support the Constitution – at least not as written.”

The ACS National Convention is an annual gathering of more than 1,000 of the of the nation's top lawyers, judges, law students, policymakers and scholars who come together to exchange ideas and hear in-depth analysis of timely law and policy issues during three days of programming. Other prominent speakers at this year’s tenth anniversary convention include Department of State Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, many federal and state judges and leading constitutional and legal scholars. View the full convention schedule here.

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS), founded in 2001 and one of the nation's leading progressive legal organizations, is a rapidly growing network of lawyers, law students, scholars, judges, policymakers and other concerned individuals. For more information about the organization or to locate one of the more than 200 lawyer and law student chapters in 48 states, please visit http://www.acslaw.org.

Contact:
Nicole Flatow
(202) 393-6187
nflatow(at)acslaw(dot)org

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