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Document Type

Symposium Article

Abstract

Following September 11, 2001, there was a challenge to the role of law as a regulator of military action and executive power. Government lawyers produced legal interpretations designed to authorize, legitimize, and facilitate interrogation tactics widely considered to be illegal. This raises a fundamental question: how should law respond to such flawed interpretation and its consequences, even if the ends might have seemed necessary or just? This Symposium examines deep tensions between competing visions of the rule of law and the role of lawyers. Spurred by a controversy over the selection of then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey as commencement speaker, the goal was to examine such basic and challenging questions. What is the optimal relationship among policy, legal interpretation, and ethics? What ethical norms should guide government lawyers? Attorney General Mukasey agreed to publish his commencement address as part of the Symposium. Participants were asked to read it and, if they wished, to use it as a touchstone for their analyses of the questions it raised.

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