Cohen on Wartime Cases & the Lessons of History

    References to the “lessons of history” are ubiquitous in law. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in recent debates over U.S. counterterrorism policy. In response to the Bush Administration’s reliance on World War II-era decisions – Johnson v. Eisentrager, Ex Parte Quirin, Hirota v. MacArthur, and In re Yamashita – opponents have argued that these decisions have been rejected by the “lessons of history.” They argue that the history of wartime cases is one marked by executive aggrandizement, panic-driven attacks on civil liberties, and overly quiescent courts – none of which should be repeated. 


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