Professor Roth to talk about Pearl Harbor and effects of attack

Professor Roth to Talk about Pearl Harbor and Effects on American Law on Dec. 7 at Library

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 11/18/2011)

The Ferndale Public Library continues to set the pace for educational programs with their “Meet the Professor” series. In November Wayne State University Professor, and Ferndale resident, Kevin Deegan Krause led a discussion on political apathy.  And on Dec. 7, 2011, the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which led to strong US involvement in World War II, Wayne State Professor Brad Roth will talk about how that attack left a wave of legal precedent in its wake that still affects the policies of our nation.

Roth holds a B.A. in Political Science from Swarthmore College (1984), a J.D. from Harvard Law School (1987), a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in International and Foreign Law from Columbia University (1992), and Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California at Berkeley (1996).  He has served as law clerk to the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court (1987-88), and has practiced law (1988-91).  He is the author of two books and roughly thirty scholarly journal articles and book chapters on issues relating to international law, human rights, and state sovereignty.

As a Wayne State Professor jointly appointed in the Political Science Department and the Law School, Roth teaches courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels that address human rights, the rule of law, and national security.  Throughout the last decade, he’s given talks to both academic and community audiences about the human rights implications of the Global War on Terrorism and he enjoys sharing his knowledge with others.

“Citizens need to know how power is being wielded in their name.  They need be able to engage in informed debate about what costs can be inflicted, in the name of security, on human beings who have never been convicted of a crime, and who have never had the opportunity to challenge their detention before a real court,” Roth said. He plans on speaking about how policies from the 1940s were used after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

“Emergencies characteristically present constitutional orders with grave challenges.  The events of  September 11, 2001 and December 7, 1941, though very different, both triggered regrettable governmental responses, and the government has invoked some of the precedents from the World War II era in support of measures taken in response to the 9/11 attacks.

‘The similarities and differences will be the main theme.  Some of the current problem is that supporters of anti-terrorism measures trade on seeming similarities, when the differences are crucial.  For example, we frequently hear the recent “targeted killing” of Anwar al-Awlaki likened to the 1943 shoot-down of the plane carrying the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.  Two Supreme Court judgments from the World War II era, Ex Parte Quirin and Johnson v. Eisentrager, furnish legal rationalizations for current practices regarding so-called ‘unlawful enemy combatants,’ but these cases are of questionable relevance.  Another, long-repudiated Supreme Court decision from the post-Pearl Harbor era, Korematsu v. United States, validating the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent, is a general reminder of the fragility of constitutional rights and the rule of law in times of perceived emergency.”

Roth, born in 1962, was not around during World War II, but his father was.  His father served in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during the war. “As a child, I was obsessed with the Pacific War.  I can still name, off the top of my head, the six Japanese aircraft carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor, the number of planes that they carried, key Japanese naval officers, and other many details of the Pacific campaign.”

With the Library’s Meet the Professor Series you can listen to Roth talk about Pearl Harbor and its Lasting Effects and get involved in the discussion.  The talk will be on Wednesday, December 07, 2011 from 7-9 pm at the Ferndale Public Library (222 E. 9 Mile).  Find out more about Library Programs at  To read more Ferndale 115 News stories about Library events go to

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