The University of Texas School of Law has launched a new legal clinic, the National Security and Human Rights Clinic to undertake legal cases and projects that address some of the deeper legal problems that arise as a result of the “war on terror.”
The National Security and Human Rights Clinic is one of very few law school clinics to undertake direct representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Clinic students, under the supervision of Professors Derek Jinks and Kristine Huskey, will serve as advocates for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility.
Led by Jinks, clinic participants spent the summer working on a brief in the consolidated cases Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush, which challenge the legality of the Military Commissions Act. The brief was submitted to the United States Supreme Court on August 24, 2007, and oral arguments will be heard this fall.
Huskey, director of the National Security and Human Rights Clinic and a clinical professor at the School of Law, will supervise students representing Guantanamo Bay detainees and working on other cases and projects related to national security.
“I want the students and professors involved in the clinic to be advocates but also, when necessary, to serve as objective experts in an area where there is a perceived tension between national security and human rights,” Huskey said. “The clinic’s work will be cognizant of the reality of terrorism and this country“s great history of liberty and freedom and the rule of law, while striving to contribute something of value in the legal arena to the ongoing debate.”
Jinks is a renowned international law scholar. Before joining the School of Law faculty in 2005, he worked in the prosecutor’s office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and served as senior legal advisor and United Nations representative for the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre in India. Since 2006, he has been a member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on International Law.
Huskey recently joined the School of Law from American University’s Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., where she was practitioner-in-residence in the International Human Rights Law Clinic. Before that, she was an attorney in the international litigation and arbitration practice group at Shearman & Sterling LLP, representing primarily international entities. Huskey represented Guantanamo detainees in Rasul v. Bush, which went before the U.S. Supreme Court and won the right of the detainees to challenge their detentions in federal court.
Others involved in the new National Security and Human Rights Clinic include Scott Sullivan, an assistant professor in the School of Law’s Emerging Scholars Program; Elizabeth Hardy, a clinical instructor; Professor Emeritus Jack Ratliff; and Austin private practice attorney Bill Scanlan.
Huskey said the goals of the National Security and Human Rights Clinic are to teach students how to be principled practitioners in the realm of national security and human rights, and to impart lessons about contributing to the legal community and to society.
“Through the Clinic, the School of Law and its students will be involved in real-life litigation that is setting precedents in constitutional law, human rights law and humanitarian law,” Huskey said. “These cases are now part of our history and will be discussed for decades to come.”