Separation of Powers, Individual Rights, and the Constitution Abroad

AuthorJules Lobel
PositionBessie McKee Wathour Endowed Chair, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Pages1629-1675
1629
Separation of Powers, Individual Rights,
and the Constitution Abroad
Jules Lobel
I. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 1631
II. THE HISTORY OF THE EXTRATERRITORIAL STRUCTURAL/
INDIVIDUAL-RIGHTS DIVIDE ................................................................. 1635
A. SEPARATION OF POWERS AND STRUCTURAL RESTRAINTS ON
GOVERNMENT ACTIONS ABROAD ..................................................... 1635
1. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld .............................................................. 1636
2. Johnson v. Eisentrager ............................................................. 1638
3. Reid v. Covert and Kinsella v. United States ex rel. Singleton ... 1638
4. Iran–Contra Majority Report ............................................... 1640
5. Applicability of Other Separation-of-Powers Provisions .... 1641
B. THE COURTS INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, EXTRATERRITORIAL
JURISPRUDENCE .............................................................................. 1644
C. BOUMEDIENE AND THE INDIVIDUAL-RIGHTS/SEPARATION-OF-
POWERS TENSION ........................................................................... 1647
III. THEORETICAL JUSTIFICATIONS FOR THE INDIVIDUAL-RIGHTS/
SEPARATION-OF-POWERS DISTINCTION ................................................ 1651
A. THE JURISDICTIONAL ANSWER ........................................................ 1652
B. TEXTUAL DIFFERENCES AND FRAMERS INTENT ................................ 1658
C. THE LESSER INTRUSIVENESS OF RELIEF BASED ON SEPARATION-OF-
POWERS RESTRAINTS ...................................................................... 1660
Bessie McKee Wathour Endowed Chair, University of Pittsburgh School of Law. I want
to thank David Cole, Gerald Neuman, Jonathan Hafetz, and David Harris for their helpful
comments on this Essay, and my Research Assistant Bret Grote for his research help. I also
thank the University of Pittsburgh Document Technology Center for their excellent help in
preparing this Essay.
1630 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 98:1629
IV. SEPARATION OF POWERS AND THE RULE OF LAW: RECASTING THE
COURTS EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISPRUDENCE BASED ON
FUNDAMENTAL VALUES ........................................................................ 1662
A. SEPARATION OF POWERS AND THE RULE OF LAW .............................. 1664
B. BOUMEDIENE AND SUBSTANTIVE DUE PROCESS ............................... 1666
C. FUTURE IMPLICATIONS ................................................................... 1669
V. CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 1675
2013] THE CONSTITUTION ABROAD 1631
I. INTRODUCTION
The Constitution’s application to U.S. governmental action against
aliens abroad has differed with respect to “structural limitations” on
governmental power and those provisions that set forth “individual rights.”1
The courts have generally treated structural constitutional limitations, such
as separation-of-powers restraints, as applicable whenever and wherever the
U.S. government acts.2 In contrast, only some of the constitutional
provisions which grant individual rights restrain government actions against
aliens abroad.3 Since the beginnings of the republic, the Court and the
political branches have generally viewed the Constitution’s separation-of-
powers restraints as applicable wherever and against whomever the United
States government acts. However, there has been an ongoing debate in the
courts and across the country for more than a century over which, if any,
individual constitutional rights can be applied to restrain governmental
actions against non-citizens outside the United States.
While this separation-of-powers/individual-rights dichotomy has a long
pedigree,4 few, if any scholars have explored its underlying rationale or
analyzed whether the distinction withstands scrutiny.5 Neither scholars nor
courts have asked why separation-of-powers principles are applied anywhere
1. See, e.g., Boumediene v. Bush, 476 F.3d 981, 995–98 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (Rogers, J.,
dissenting), rev’d, 553 U.S. 723 (2008); Brief of Amici Curiae Certain Former Federal Judges in
Support of Petitioner (Separation of Powers: Enforceable at Guantana mo), Hamdan v.
Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006) (No. 05-184), 2006 WL 53990 [hereinafter Brief of Former
Federal Judges]; KAL RAUSTIALA, DOES THE CONSTITUTION FOLLOW THE FLAG? THE EVOLUTION
OF TERRITORIALITY IN AMERICA N LAW 244–45 (2009) (“Structural provisions, such as bans on
title of nobility, are arguably different [from individual-rights provisions]. Because they
determine the scope of federal power, they apply everywhere the federal governm ent acts.”);
Robert Knowles & Marc D. Falkoff, Toward a Limited-Government Theory of Extraterritorial Detention,
62 N.Y.U. ANN. SURV. AM. L. 637, 641–42 (2007) (supporting Judge Rogers’ position of a “non-
rights based, limited-government theory”); Jean-Marc Piret, Boumediene v. Bush and the
Extraterritorial Reach of the U.S. Constitution: A Step To wards Judicial Cosmopolitanism?, UTRECHT L.
REV., Dec. 2008, at 81, 98 (“[T]he Suspension Clause is as much a limitation on Congressional
power as it is a source of individual rights.”); Jessica Powley Hayden, Note, The Ties That Bind:
The Constitution, Structural Restraints, and Government Action Overseas, 96 GEO. L.J. 237 (2007).
2. See Hamdan, 548 U.S. 557, superseded by statute, Military Commissions Act of 2006, Pub.
L. No. 109-3666, 120 Stat. 2600; Little v. Barreme, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 170 (1804).
3. United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 274–75 (1990) (rejecting
application of the Fourth Amendment’s Warrant Clause to a search conducted in Mexico);
Dorr v. United States, 195 U.S. 138, 144–45 (1904) (deciding that the Sixth Amendment’s
right to a jury trial was inapplicable to certain overseas territories).
4. Professor Raustiala observes that the “geographic implications of this distinction
between structural and individual rights provisions, noticed as early as the antebellum debates
of Calhoun and Webster, undergirded the Supreme Court’s reasoning in the Insular Cases, an d
can be tracked through many later judicial decisions.” RAUSTIALA, supra note 1, at 244.
5. See Knowles & Falkoff, supra note 1, and Hayden, supra note 1, for two examples that
discuss the distinction and argue that a structural or limited government approach should be
applied to United States governmental actions abroad, but do not explore and scrutinize in
depth the rationales for the distinction and whether those rationales mak e sense.

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