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POLI 230

Constitutional Law


Writing Assignment

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At President Obama’s urging Congress passed the Constitutional Treatment of Detainees Act of 2012.  The law is designed to deal with those detained in military and police actions against alleged terrorists.  The law provides:


1.          It is a federal crime to commit or conspire to commit terrorist acts, or to aid and abet terrorist acts, in the United States.

A.         A terrorist act is any violent act, or threat of violence, against civilian or non-combatant military targets for the purpose of attaining political, religious or ideological goals through coercion, fear or intimidation.

B.         States detaining those suspected of violating this law must, at the request of the President, transfer the suspect to federal custody.


2.          The law also created the Federal Terrorist Prevention Database and requested that states provide all data from state issued identification cards (e.g. driver’s licenses) to the FBI’s database. 

A.         States failing to do so will lose 50% of all federal Homeland Security funds.


3.          Finally, the law creates a Special Prosecutor to investigate possible violations of federal law by members of the Executive Branch in its investigation, apprehension or prosecution of alleged terrorists.

A.         The law allows the Attorney General to appoint the Special Prosecutor.

B.         The President may not fire the Prosecutor unless s/he commits a crime.


Holmes is President of the Catonsville, Maryland, chapter of the Anarchy Party.  After two of his members left to join the local Libertarian Party he shot the Libertarian Party president with a flare gun.  Holmes was arrested by State Police and charged with assault.  President Obama ordered Maryland police to turn Holmes over to federal custody for prosecution as a terrorist.  Maryland refused to do so and the U.S. sued in federal court.


One month later Maryland refused to turn over its identification data to the FBI.  As a result it lost more than $5 million in federal homeland security funding.  Maryland sued the U.S. to invalidate the law requiring the forfeiture of its homeland security funds.  After turning over its data, and receiving its homeland security funds, Virginia joined Maryland’s lawsuit challenging the law.


Harlan, a U.S. citizen, was arrested by FBI officers on UMBC’s campus.  The government claimed Harlan was conspiring with Al Qaeda to launch a computer virus to disrupt U.S. banks and the stock market.  President Obama declared Harlan to be an unlawful enemy combatant.  Harlan was allowed to hire the lawyer of his choice, see the evidence against him, and challenge his status as an enemy combatant in federal court.  Once the court confirmed him to be an unlawful enemy combatant, President Obama claimed the right to detain Harlan until the end of hostilities with Al Qaeda without further judicial proceedings.  Harlan challenged his detention in federal court.


The Attorney General appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether members of the Bush Administration violated federal law by authorizing torture.  The Special Prosecutor uncovered evidence that high level Bush Administration officials endorsed the use of torture in violation of several federal laws.  He subpoenaed all relevant documents from former Vice-President Cheney.  Cheney moved to quash the subpoena in federal court and claims the Special Prosecutor is unconstitutional.


All cases and issues reach the Supreme Court.  Write a persuasive essay identifying constitutional issues and stating how they should be resolved.  In doing so cite relevant constitutional provisions and cases.  You may only cite cases in your text, or discussed in class.


Papers should be 5 – 7 pages double spaced

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