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Prominent Lawyers Aiming to Keep John Yoo in the News a Bit Longer

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  • Prominent Lawyers Aiming to Keep John Yoo in the News a Bit Longer

    John Yoo just can’t quite keep his name out of the headlines.

    Last week, it looked so good for him, after reports broke that the Obama Administration was close to letting him off the hook for authoring memos sanctioning the use of torture with little more than a wrist-slap. But since then, the attacks have continued. Several prominent law-professor/lawyer types are urging the Ninth Circuit to hold Yoo accountable.

    The group, which includes Stanford’s Deborah Rhode and Irvine’s Erwin Chemerinsky (in two separate briefs, here and here), recently submitted arguments opposing dismissal of Jose Padilla’s lawsuit that accuses Yoo of setting the balls in motion that led to Padilla getting tortured. Click here for the story, from the SF Chronicle.

    Jose Padilla was arrested in Chicago in 2002 and held for nearly four years in a Navy brig. He was convicted of taking part in an unrelated conspiracy to provide money and supplies to extremist groups and sentenced to 17 years. While in the brig, Padilla said, he was subjected a host of torture techniques, including sleep deprivation and being kept in so-called “stress positions.”

    In June, San Francisco federal judge Jeffrey White refused to dismiss the suit. Yoo appealed, saying the suit would interfere with presidential war-making authority. The Obama administration has taken his side, arguing that courts should not meddle in questions of national security.

    But in filings over the last 10 days, groups of prominent lawyers have filed to keep the suit alive. They argue that this is not a dispute over legal advice, as Yoo contends, but the case of a lawyer who allegedly stepped out of his role to take part in planning detention and interrogation policies, and then devised legal opinions to justify those policies.

    “It is the essential role of the judicial branch to prevent the ‘war on terror’ from becoming the blank check for official torture that Yoo and the United States (Justice Department) seek,” nine constitutional law teachers told the court.

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