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NACDL News: Constitution Still Applies in Alleged Domestic Terrorism Cases
By Ivan J. Dominguez
NACDL News columns.
On April 22, prior to Boston Marathon suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev being read his Miranda rights, NACDL issued a statement supporting the use of America’s civilian criminal justice system for cases of alleged domestic terrorism and reiterating its opposition to any expansion of the “public safety exception” to Miranda v. Arizona. The narrow “public safety exception” permits law enforcement to temporarily interrogate suspects without providing them their constitutionally-mandated Miranda warning in emergency situations.
“The ‘public safety exception’ is precisely that — an emergency exception,” NACDL President Steven D. Benjamin said. “It cannot become the rule for any category of alleged criminal conduct without undermining the Constitution. In addition, the suggestion that Tsarnaev be treated as an enemy combatant or diverted out of the civilian criminal justice system would amount to a radical suspension of due process and NACDL opposes it. All crime is by definition an attack on civil society and the civilian population. Distinctions in degree, breadth, or inhumanity do not distinguish these crimes from the conduct that our criminal justice system is designed to prevent and punish. The crimes committed at the Boston Marathon took place on Patriots’ Day, a holiday marking the first battles of the American Revolution. It would certainly add to this tragedy if the events in Boston lead the government to abandon the core protections the founders fought so hard to secure.”