Rao in NY Times on Real Drone Strike Accountability

Professor Neomi Rao authored an opinion piece in the New York Times in response to the question of whether a court should approve all drone strikes. In her response, she questions the constitutionality of a drone court and concludes that political checks are the best means for holding the executive branch accountable.


Whether comprised of Article III judges or constituted as a specialized court within the executive branch, a drone court raises serious constitutional problems. Designing a drone court in a manner that respects executive power over military operations as well as the independence of the judiciary would be difficult, if not impossible.

Moreover, from a public policy standpoint, it is unlikely that any drone court could address the concerns most frequently identified with targeted killings. Assuming for the sake of argument the validity of such concerns, these problems require political, not judicial, solutions.

The modern tendency is to view judicial checks as the primary, even exclusive, means of accountability. The Constitution, however, provides a variety of other checks. In the area of armed conflict and war powers, a deliberative and serious Congress provides the best hope for promoting an effective and accountable executive.

Real Drone Strike Accountability Requires Political Checks: New York Times, April 25, 2015. By Neomi Rao.