Upcoming Belfast Project Hearing

Austin Hall column detailWhen I was in law school, Judge William G. Young, one of my favorite federal judges, would hold court occasionally in the moot courtroom in Austin Hall. And by “hold court” I don’t mean that he regaled the law students with war stories from his favorite cases. I mean that he literally held court. Lawyers would come to Austin Hall instead of the courthouse to argue their motions for the entertainment and edification of a hundred law students. The room was in the shape of an amphitheater. We were in the role of the spectators at a bullfight enjoying the sight of the toreador (Judge Young) toying with the bull before the kill. ¡Olé!

This is probably what the lawyer for Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney of the Belfast Project have to look forward to when Judge Young holds court at BC Law School later this month on the merits of their claim. Just before the new year, Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney, of the Belfast Project at Boston College, sued the Attorney General seeking judicial review of the government’s decision to issue a subpoena to Boston College on behalf of the United Kingdom. Recall that Judge Young earlier denied the pair’s motion for leave to intervene. They claimed then, and they claim now, that the Attorney General wrongfully decided to provide judicial assistance to the UK government.

I think this claim will most likely fail. The arguments are straightforward, and I have made them before: Maloney and McIntyre probably lack standing; the decision whether to grant judicial assistance is committed to the Attorney General’s discretion and is nonjusticiable; because the Attorney General has discretion, mandamus does not lie; and the mutual legal assistance treaty expressly provides that there is no private cause of action to challenge the Attorney General’s actions.

As an experiment, I am going to try to live blog the hearing, if permitted (I’m checking). So stay tuned.

Photo credit: r reeves (license)

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