Creating a Domestic Terror Court

16 Pages Posted: 14 May 2009 Last revised: 6 Feb 2013

See all articles by Amos N. Guiora

Amos N. Guiora

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: April 14, 2009


President Barack Obama has stated that among his initial priorities as commander-in-chief is closing the United States detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. One of his first actions after taking office was to suspend all legal proceedings in Guantanamo so that the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commission's process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically. To that end, on January 22, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order requiring the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility within one year. This Order raises numerous, highly problematic questions including: What do we do with the current detainees? Where will they go? How will they be tried? Will they be tried? What shall be done with future terrorism suspects?

Although President Obama has made his intentions clear, he has not, as of yet - according to media reports - determined what is the most effective manner to go forth with this enormously complex issue. Therefore, now is clearly the time to develop a working strategy to resolve the fundamental questions of where and how thousands of post-9/11 detainees are tried. For the reasons articulated below, I recommend establishing a domestic terror court (DTC) in the United States.

This article will detail the specific processes and procedures of such a court and seek to answer many of these difficult questions. In doing so, it is my hope that this article will act as a guide for policy makers in articulating, developing, and implementing a process from detention to trial of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. A lawful civilian process, subject to independent judicial review, is the constitutional, intellectual, and philosophical underpinning of this proposal. In detailing the nuts and bolts of the proposed DTC. Though I will briefly address why the DTC proposal should be adopted, the primary emphasis in this article is to fill in the blanks as to the workings of the court.

Keywords: Guantanamo Bay, Domestic Terror Court, detainees, constitutional rights, civilian process and procedure, independent judicial review, executive Order

Suggested Citation

Guiora, Amos N., Creating a Domestic Terror Court (April 14, 2009). Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 48, p. 617, Fall 2008, U of Utah Legal Studies Paper No. 057-09-05, Available at SSRN:

Amos N. Guiora (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-581-4295 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)


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