In Defense of Political Trials

By Charles F. Abel; Frank H. Marsh et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter One
The Ubiquitous Political Trial

Political trials, contrary to our lawyers, judges, and jurisprudential scholars are not the wicked invention of Fascists and Communists but are respected ways of participating in our political process. In fact, political trials are an indispensable part of our civilization and they work as much justice as we can learn to expect. We might even say that the more political trials we have, the more honestly we can call ourselves a pluralist system dedicated to the greatest good for the greatest number and the protection of individual human rights.

In this book we hope to provide an analytical framework for defining a political trial, what justifies them in certain contexts, and how we might evaluate them to determine when they are the duty of those invested with the public trust. By way of introduction, we will make a few brief points.

It is an inevitable fact of their institutional nature that all courts exercise power through their proceedings. Consequently, any properly running court system cannot avoid exercising this power to stimulate and restrain political change. This is why political trials occur all of the time in every field of law, and this is also why it is so important to distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. To secure our cherished goals and to promote our most fundamental values, each of us sooner or later deals with what the courts have recognized as our rights, duties, and responsibilities and how the courts have prioritized our goals and values with respect to all others.

The need to deal with the court decisions on these priorities and the court definitions of rights and duties never ends. The goals and priorities we think are secure tend to dissolve over time through a case-by-case re-analysis and

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In Defense of Political Trials
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Chapter One - The Ubiquitous Political Trial 1
  • Notes 26
  • Chapter Two - Contrasting Theories of the Political Trial 31
  • Notes 48
  • Chapter Three - Defining and Evaluating Political Trials 51
  • Notes 72
  • Chapter Four - Justifying Political Trials 77
  • Notes 98
  • Chapter Five - Political Trials, Science, and Religion: the Proper Relationship Between Church and State 101
  • Notes 120
  • Chapter Six - Political Trials, Science, and Religion: Politics and Medical Science 123
  • Notes 140
  • Cases Cited 143
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 151
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