Tuesday, December 7, 2010
According to the New York Times, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an opinion today In the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, a dual U.S. and Yemeni citizen accused of being a terrorist, which holds that executive branch's decision to subject a U.S. citizen to "targeted" or extrajudicial killing abroad is a judicially unreviewable decision under the political question doctrine. The Court also dismissed the suit on the grounds that Mr. al-Awlaki's father did not have standing to sue on his behalf. The so-called political question doctrine permits judges to avoid deciding cases when the issue is textually committed to another branch of government or there is a lack of judiciallly manageable standards to decide the case. See Baker v. Carr. Other factors the court may take into account include whether an adverse decision will potentially embarass other branches of the federal government and show a lack of respect for those other branches. Cases involving national security, military matters, and foreign relations issues are often determined to be nonjusticiable political questions. The ACLU, who filed the case on behalf of Mr. al-Awlaki's father, has denounced the decision because it leaves too much discretion to the executive branch to potentially violate the rights of U.S. citizens.