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Zengerle Discusses Supreme Court and the War on Terror

Professor Joseph Zengerle addressed the Cosmos Club at a Legal Affairs luncheon in Washington, D.C., on October 15 on the topic of "The Supreme Court and the War on Terror."

Zengerle discussed the tentative balance between security measures and civil liberties that has arisen through the domestic threats that are part of today's world. In the past five years, the Supreme Court has ruled on five cases addressing the "war on terror," each time reversing the decisions of the lower courts, without ever garnering more than five votes. Zengerle examined how receptive the president, Congress, and the lower courts have been to the findings of the high court and whether the Supreme Court is, in fact, taking a new course.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Zengerle served in Vietnam as a special assistant to General William Westmoreland during the 1968 Tet offensive at a time when anti-war protests and draft evasion were significant issues in American culture. From 1973-1974, Zengerle was clerk to Chief Justice Warren Burger, whose court was then dealing with issues surrounding the bombing of Cambodia. In 1979 President Carter appointed Zengerle assistant secretary of the Air Force (Manpower, Reserve Affairs and Installations). He was the first Vietnam veteran confirmed by the Senate for a civilian position in the Pentagon. 

Zengerle teaches courses in areas such as Homeland Security and the War on Terror at the law school, where he also serves as executive director of the Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers (CLAS). CLAS, which Zengerle founded at the law school in 2004, continues to be the only clinic in American legal education to offer free civil legal assistance to members of the armed forces and their families.