Analysis and Commentary on Human Rights

Symbols and Distractions

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies comments on the announcement by the White House that it would expand the U.S. prison at Guantanamo. Margulies describes the role that Guantanamo has taken on—including its extremely high cost of operations—and the symbolic role it has for Donald Trump and his supporters.

The High Long-Term Costs of Engaging in Torture

Illinois Law professor Lesley Wexler explains the significance of the Canadian government’s recent settlement with and apology to Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old Canadian member of al-Qaeda who fought against the United States in Afghanistan. Wexler explains that while a majority of Canadians oppose the settlement, Prime Minister Trudeau has chosen to pay the political and economic price for his predecessor’s decision to allow Canadian interrogators to participate in the Guantanamo regime and for his refusal to seek Khadr’s return to Canada.

What Women Are Not Getting for Valentine’s Day This Year: Access to Reproductive Health Care Under the Trump Administration

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman discusses the grave risks to women’s health under the Trump Administration, both within the United States and worldwide. Grossman explains the unprecedented breadth of President Trump’s executive order reinstating what is known as the “global gag rule” and vastly expanding its scope.

Who Cares?

Cornell Law professor Joseph Margulies argues that rather than see certain individuals as monsters undeserving of empathy, we should see the humanity in every person. To illustrate his point of humanity, Margulies describes in detail the life and background of Dante Owens, who was sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

Notorious P.I.G.: Rape Culture Meets Presidential Politics

SMU Dedman School of Law professor Joanna L. Grossman and University of Pittsburgh law professor Deborah L. Brake analyze the infamous video of Donald Trump boasting about what he can do to women, as well as the response of the Trump campaign. Grossman and Brake argue that Trump’s words in the video, and his non-apology following its release, epitomize the formula that creates rape-prone culture: deny harm, deflect responsibility, and normalize what happened.

My Friend Michael

Cornell University Law professor Joe Margulies reflects on the life and accomplishments of his friend and colleague Michael Ratner, who passed away last week as a result of complications from cancer. As Margulies points out, Ratner recognized that dignity withheld from some is denied to all, and he suffered greatly for the great work he did.

War Crimes in a Punitive Age

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies discusses the challenges of comprehensive criminal justice reform. Even for victims of wrongful detention and torture, he argues that war crimes prosecutions are not the answer. With an eye toward a crime-free society, Margulies presents a compelling argument as to why the current, punitive nature of our carceral state should be dismantled.

Enough

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies comments on Donald Trump’s recent declaration that not only does he support torture, but that if he becomes president, he would utilize it more, regardless of whether it “works.” Margulies explores these statements as well as the identity of those who support him and his views.

Who Gets to Be Human?

Cornell University law professor Joseph Margulies continues his discussion of the role of dignity as a condition of a legitimate criminal justice system. Margulies argues that it is dignity that saves us from the conceit that we may decide who gets to be human, but he laments that many people are not yet ready to give up that conceit.

Torture and Myth, Part One

In this first of a two-part series of columns, Cornell University visiting law professor Joseph Margulies debunks the widespread belief that Americans’ support for torture occurred immediately following the attacks of 9/11. In Part II, Margulies will discuss how support for torture took off only after it became a partisan issue, and an argument took shape that made torture sound congenial to American values.

The New Torture Report: Expect Little Other Than Talk

Former counsel to the president John W. Dean discusses the recent report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence describing the CIA’s use of torture to interrogate suspected terrorists. Dean predicts that the report will not likely lead to any prosecutions or policy changes, but instead might only result in the more frequent torture of Americans captured around the world.

The Reclamation of Torture

Guest columnist and professor of law and government at Cornell University, Joseph Margulies discusses the use of the term “torture” in American media and the public sphere. Margulies describes the change in language after 9/11 and explains the significance of the word’s return to the public’s vocabulary.

The Death Penalty in the United States and the Force of Regional Human Rights Law

Justia guest columnist and U.C. Berkeley School of Law professor Saira Mohamed discusses how the recent botched execution in Oklahoma signals the impact regional human rights laws can have beyond borders. Mohamed explains how the development of various European laws and corporate policies have contributed to changes in lethal injection practices in the United States. She notes that European opposition to capital punishment led to the adoption of a European Union regulation restricting trade in drugs that could be used for the purpose of lethal injection. Mohamed concludes that despite the common perception that human rights laws are toothless, limited laws such as those in Europe demonstrate the capacity of human rights law to have wide application, shape state practices, and impact human lives.

Seven Ways of Looking at Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum and the Supreme Court Under Chief Justice John Roberts

Justia guest columnist and Touro Law Center professor Rodger Citron analyzes the Supreme Court's decision in the Kiobel case, which concerned the scope of the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”), a federal statute relied upon by lawyers asserting claims of human rights violations. In particular, Citron focuses on how Kiobel fully illustrates the judicial philosophy of Chief Justice Roberts. In addition, he offers seven different ways of looking at the decision.

Meet our Columnists

Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Co... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan is an economist and legal scholar and a Professor of Law at The George Washington U... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is Professor of Law and Charles Evans Hughes Scholar at Cornell University. Colb tea... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Befo... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He has w... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School of L... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

Marci A. Hamilton is one of the country’s leading church-state scholars and the Fox Professor of Pra... more

David S. Kemp
David S. Kemp

David S. Kemp is an attorney and managing editor at Justia. He received his B.A. in Psychology from... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of Record... more

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry is the UW Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of... more

Ronald D. Rotunda
Ronald D. Rotunda

Ronald D. Rotunda is the Doy & Dee Henley Chair and Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, at... more