Born on October 10, 1941 in Shanghai, China, Laurence Tribe, professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, is widely known for his liberal views on the U.S. Constitution. Asserting that the Constitution does not protect American citizens only, Tribe opposes the prospect of military tribunals to try terrorists and enemy combatants captured on the battlefield. “Substantive limits,” he told a 2001 Senate Judiciary Committee, “must be established by law to constrain on the President’s power to determine which aliens are to be subjected to the jurisdiction of a military tribunal or commission, and procedural guidelines must be established to ensure that defendants’ due process rights are protected by such commissions.”
Addressing a Congressional committee investigating the possible impeachment of President Clinton in 1998, Tribe stated, “The Constitution, in this matter…leaves ample room for judgment, even for wisdom, in the deployment of power. What it leaves no room for is the impeachment of a president who has not committed…‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors.’” In the 2000 Presidential election dispute over miscast ballots in Florida, Tribe represented Al Gore.
Tribe shocked the academic world in 1999 when he revised his book American Constitutional Law – which had been a standard text in law schools for more than two decades – and acknowledged for the first time that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees individuals the right to keep and bear arms. “I’ve gotten an avalanche of angry mail from apparent liberals who said, ‘How could you?’” Tribe told a USA Today reporter. As columnist Richard Poe observes, “Subsequent editions of Tribe’s book now carry the correction. But the book misinformed law students for 20 years.”