Is the term enemy combatant an established legal category of persons under international law? Has the President exceeded his constitutional authority in classifying United States citizens who are suspected terrorists as enemy combatants? In 2018 a U.S. citizen was released after being held for 13 months as an enemy combatant. He was detained without being charged with a crime and without the ability to challenge the legality of his detention. This thesis serves two purposes. First, it will seek to trace the history of the term enemy combatant and highlight the evolution of its use by the executive branch. This thesis then examines whether the executive has exceeded his constitutional authority to classify a United States citizen as an enemy combatant. While most of the literature focuses on the treatment and detention of enemy combatants, existing scholarship largely overlooks the issue of authority to classify enemy combatants. This thesis will argue that the executive is overstepping the boundaries of its presidential power when the executive branch creates the criteria (a legislative function) for enemy combatants and applies the criteria in the classification of enemy combatants (a judicial function). This qualitative study will use normative legal research focusing on the principles of the law in classifying a suspected terrorist as an enemy combatant as well as the legal history of the term. The analysis of the legal history of the term enemy combatant will be completed by content analysis using Nvivo 12 software of various government documents as well as case studies of enemy combatant cases.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Davis, Taraleigh, "Appropriate Adjective: Executive Authority and the Classification of Enemy Combatants" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6346.