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Debbie O'Leary
IU School of Law-Bloomington

Dawn Johnsen
IU School of Law-Bloomington

Ryan Piurek
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Conference to examine limits of presidential power

Sept. 27, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington and the American Constitution Society are hosting a conference to examine presidential power in conventional armed conflicts as well as in the "war on terror."

The conference, "War, Terrorism and Torture: Limits on Presidential Power in the 21st Century," will be held from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, in the law school's Moot Court Room. The keynote speaker for the conference is Harold Hongju Koh, dean of Yale Law School and the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law.

Koh will join a panel of distinguished scholars to address crucial questions including what, if any, limits on presidential power and safeguards against abuses of power exist in the national security realm; whether the Constitution limits the president's power in wartime, as expressed recently through military tribunals, enemy combatant designations and coercive interrogation techniques; whether any institution or source of law effectively constrains presidential power in the 21st century; and just how far the United States will go in the name of national security.

"The Bush administration has pushed and tested the limits of presidential power, especially in the war on terror, from the incarceration of 'enemy combatants' without access to lawyers or courts, to now-discredited secret legal analyses concluding that the president as commander-in-chief may authorize torture contrary to the federal anti-torture statute," said Professor of Law Dawn Johnsen, who is organizing the conference. "Such assertions of sweeping, controversial authority inspired this gathering of prominent scholars and former governmental officials to examine what, if any, effective limits on presidential power and abuse will exist in the coming decades."

The conference is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For more information, visit the law school's conference Web site at