Challenges to Guantanamo
Finding balance between liberty and national security is not a simple affair, admitted U.S. District Justice Richard J. Leon. The first federal judge to conduct habeas-corpus proceedings on the imprisonment of the Guantanamo Bay detainees spoke about this complex matter during a March 11 lecture at Dickinson College.
A longtime Republican who had been appointed by Pres. Bush in 2002, Leon made world's headlines six years later when he ruled that five Algerian men were unlawfully held at Guantanamo Bay—a finding that was seen as a setback for the Bush administration. Leon ordered to release the five detainees; in the same decision, he found that the government had justified the continued imprisonment of a sixth detainee.
It wasn’t the first time that Leon had been called to judge the actions of a sitting presidential administration. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Leon had served as counsel to Congress in the investigations of three sitting presidents during the Iran-Contra, October Surprise and Whitewater affairs [article continues below].
Leon—who earned a bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross College in 1971, a law degree from Suffolk Law School in 1974 and a master of laws degree from Harvard Law School in 1981—has also served at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a commissioner on the White House Fellows Commission and the Judicial Review Commission on Foreign Asset Control, and he is a former professor at St. John's Law School.
He presides in Washington, D.C., where he is also an adjunct law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center and the George Washington University Law School. He continues to judge Guantanamo-detainee cases.
Leon's speech at Dickinson, Guantanamo: Constitutional Challenges, was sponsored by The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues. A full house of Dickinson administrators, faculty and students came to the Stern Center Great Room to hear him speak.
Photos by A. Pierce Bounds '71