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Law's Trials
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Book description

The US 'war on terror' has repeatedly violated fundamental rule of law values. When executive and legislature commit such egregious wrongs, courts represent the ultimate defense. Law's Trials: The Performance of Legal Institutions in the US 'War on Terror' offers the first comprehensive account of judicial performance during the sixteen years of the Bush and Obama administrations. Abel examines criminal prosecutions of alleged terrorists, courts martial of military personnel accused of law of war violations, military commission trials of 'high value detainees', habeas corpus petitions by Guantánamo detainees, civil damage actions by victims of both the 'war on terror' and terrorism, and civil liberties violations by government officials and Islamophobic campaigners. Law's Trials identifies successful defenses of the rule of law through qualitative and quantitative analyses, comparing the behavior of judges within and between each category of cases and locating those actions in a comparative history of efforts to redress fundamental injustices.


‘A richly detailed and important work that describes critical shifts in US counter-terrorism law and policy since 9/11. Examining such issues as military detention, torture, and religious discrimination, this book provides invaluable insights into the role of law and legal institutions in America.'

Jonathan Hafetz - Seton Hall Law School

‘Richard L. Abel's comprehensive work on the role of the courts in post 9/11 America illuminates the perilous course traversed by the rule of law in the war on terror. Bringing to life the challenges faced by the country's judges, as well as the rhetoric, reasoning and consequences of their decisions, Law's Trials is a must read for anyone who cares about the law and its role in America.'

Karen J. Greenberg - author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State

‘Law's Trials is a remarkable achievement, beginning with the near-encyclopedic coverage of all interactions between the judiciary and those accused of terrorism. But it is far more inasmuch as Abel also asks probing questions about the circumstances under which we should expect courts and judges to defend civil liberties against the combined weight of the state and public opinion willing to sacrifice those liberties as part of a ‘war on terror'.'

Sanford Levinson - author of Framed: America's 51 Constitutions and the Crisis of Governance

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