Sunday, April 24, 2005

Closed courtroom for Sibel Edmonds appeal

More from the front lines in the new separation of powers; that is, the separation of the those in power, and their exercise thereof, from the rest of us:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of the National Capital Area filed an emergency motion Wednesday to open the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the public during oral arguments tomorrow in a hearing over the termination of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. Several media outlets filed a separate emergency motion.

The move comes in response to an announcement from the court clerk this morning that the argument would be closed to everyone except attorneys involved in the case and Edmonds. Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU National Office, will argue on behalf of Edmonds tomorrow.

"There is no plausible reason why members of the public and the press cannot be present at this hearing, especially since the written arguments of the parties are entirely on the public record,"said Art Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area. "The rule of law does not evaporate because an appeal involves national security information."

In its motion, the ACLU noted that appellate arguments are historically open to the public as a matter of law, and that federal circuits have rejected efforts to close them, even in cases involving national security. When the United States asked the Supreme Court to close part of the oral argument in the Pentagon Papers case – a case that involved classified information of the greatest sensitivity – that motion was denied. Likewise, in an appeal in the ongoing prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, an alleged conspirator in the 9/11 terrorist plot, the court rejected the government's move to close the entire hearing.

Whether we are headed toward star Chamber justic is no longer a serious question. There is only a sliver of room left for debate as to whether we have arrived yet.


Post a Comment

<< Home

see web stats