Justice Anthony Kennedy Favors Civilian Courts in Terrorism Cases

August 20, 2010 - 6:27 AM
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said Thursday that most terrorism cases should be tried in civilian courts.
Anthony Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies before a House appropriations subcommittee regarding the Supreme Court's 2008 fiscal budget request on March 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Kaanapali, Hawaii (AP) - Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said Thursday that most terrorism cases should be tried in civilian courts.
 
Kennedy addressed participants in the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference on Maui, where a panel discussion earlier this week reached a consensus in favor of using civilian courts instead of military commissions in most terrorism cases.
 
"Article III courts are quite capable of trying these terrorist cases," Kennedy said, agreeing with the conclusion.
 
Kennedy also praised the hundreds of attorneys attending the four-day conference at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa for taking up "one of the most crucial, dangerous and disturbing issues of our time -- terrorism."
 
It was clear, he said, that an "attack on the rule of law has failed," referring to the use of military tribunals to try terrorist suspects, often before panels in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
 
The justice is often considered the swing vote on the ideologically divided high court. During a question-and-answer session, Kennedy was asked how new Justice Elena Kagan would bring change to the high court.
 
"It will be a different court," Kennedy said, without elaborating.
 
The 9th Circuit includes federal trial, appeals and bankruptcy courts, as well as district courts in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
 
Nearly 400 judges preside in 9th Circuit courts.