Tribe: Elian Seizure Illegal
Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, writing today in the New York Times,
says the Justice Department had no legal authority to seize Elian Gonzalez
from the home of his Miami relatives.
April 25, 2000
The liberal Tribe, often touted as a possible Supreme Court nominee,
concludes Janet Reno and the Clinton administration "violated a basic
principle of our society, a principle whose preservation lies at the core
of ordered liberty under the rule of law."
Tribe notes that "under the Constitution, it is axiomatic that the
executive branch has no unilateral authority to enter people's homes
forcibly to remove innocent individuals without taking the time to seek a
warrant or other order from a judge or magistrate" — absent the
probable cuase a crime is being committed.
As for the "search warrant" obtained by the Immigration and
Naturalization Service, Tribe writes, "no judge or neutral magistrate
had issued the type of warrant or other authority needed for the executive
branch to break into the home to seize the child."
He explains that the search warrant is "not a warrant to seize the
child" and that the government needed to have "secured a
Tribe concludes that Reno's decision was "worse than a political
blunder," a decision that "strikes at the heart of
constitutional government and shakes the safeguards of liberty."