We suspect that when most people think of a political trial they envision a man or woman standing before an array of black robed judges, defending themselves against the state's charges of treason, insurrection, heresy, or some peculiar crime that only exists in Eastern Europe or Asia, such as criticizing the prime minister or counterrevolutionary activities. Memorable trials of historical persons such as Socrates, Thomas More, or, more recently, Dietrich Bonhoffer are usually offered as definitive examples of political trials. Even our present-day judges, lawyers, and jurisprudential scholars think of a political trial as evil phenomena fostered by Communists, Third World dictators, or South Africa. Very little thought is given to the idea that there are other sorts of political trials, which are, if properly understood, essential to participating in our political process and, under the right circumstances, help promote justice.
Our book introduces a different idea regarding a political trial, and it presents the argument that political trials are not inherently evil; they can be seen as a positive duty of those holding the public trust. The proposition offered is not that all political trials are justifiable, but rather that different kinds of political trials are justifiable in different kinds of situations. The book is divided into two sections. In the first section, we examine the nature of political trials and debate their cogency. We also consider how they might be justified. In the second section, we examine specific areas of law that are inherently political and at present discriminatory. That is, they work politically to the advantage of certain individuals and groups and oppressively toward others. They distribute social, economic, or political burdens ineq-