“Torture Lite,” “Full Bodied” Torture, and the Insulation of Legal Conscience

Several years ago, I began work on a project that I fancied to be both hypothetical and academic. In the aftermath of September 11, a number of commentators, including one prominent member of the legal academy, advanced the proposition that interrogation by torture in pursuit of terrorists should be viewed as permissible under the United States Constitution when undertaken with procedural safeguards. In an article published in 2003, I argued that these commentators were legally sloppy and morally obtuse: no matter what procedures accompany it, interrogation by torture is both at odds with settled constitutional law as it is and profoundly inconsistent with the legal system as it should be.

By Seth F. Kreimer

Seth F. Kreimer is the Kenneth W. Gemmill Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Seth Kreimer’s first article, Allocational Sanctions: The Problem of Negative Rights in a Positive State, set the terms for a generation of discussion of unconstitutional conditions on public benefits. His subsequent work has shaped analysis of privacy of information, abortion regulation, assisted suicide, and gay marriage. He has explored the implications of DNA testing in criminal justice, free speech on the Internet, and the dangers of abuse in the “war on terror.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *