Saturday, February 19, 2005


It's amazing how conclusions can slip past, even though you have all of the information you need. This happened to me when I read a letter to the editor in the Economist this week, which stated, "If we ratified the [International Criminal Court], but an American court was unwilling or unable to try, say, President Bill Clinton for bombing a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory, America would have to extradite him to stand trial. What would the repercussions be if the seven-judge pre-trial chamber determined that the actions of a sitting president were criminal? The American constitution does not allow such an international check on our executive branch." The "unwilling or unable" phrase struck me, since the President does not answer to the courts, but to the Senate. Interpreted in this manner, the ICC is designed to bring American presidents to "justice." No wonder the current administration is a bit skeptical. I myself shall begin to ponder this.


Anonymous Noumenon said...

Q. Is the President immune from criminal prosecution before impeachment?

A. Unanswered. For a long time, immunity from prosecution was assumed, but recent commentaries are mixed. See Eric Freedman, The Law As King And The King As Law: Is A President Immune From Criminal Prosecution Before Impeachment?, 20 Hastings Const. L.Q. 7 (1992).

I don't see what would stop us from setting up an "Official Court of Judging the President 'Not Guilty'" to head off the ICC.

I spent a good 45 minutes looking around for good perspective on this issue and I didn't find anyone arguing why this couldn't happen (the ICC is definitely designed for heads of state as well as citizens) or was desirable. Compared to political issues in America, there seems to be quite a lack of public debate. Similar to the mysterious expansions of the EU.

5:20 AM  

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