Should Boston Bombing Suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Be Charged in Civilian Court?

Some are calling for Dzokhar Tsarnaev, an American citizen, to be treated as an enemy combatant with little or no right to due process.

By Dara Sharif

The suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing could be put to death if he's convicted in last week's rampage of terror that left at least four people dead and scores maimed.

But some critics on the right are crying foul. Could this be a sign of a double standard?

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among a chorus of voices from conservative quarters who argue that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a "likely" agent of radicalized Islamist extremists from outside the U.S. and should be treated as an "enemy combatant," with little or no right to due process.

"You have a right, with his radical Islamist ties and the fact that Chechens are all over the world fighting with Al Qaeda—I think you have a reasonable belief to go down that road, and it would be a big mistake not to go down that road," Graham said.

Here's the thing, though: Tsarnaev is an American. The Chechen immigrant took the oath of citizenship in September. And under U.S. law, Americans cannot be held as enemy combatants, at least not without evidence of collusion with foreign forces. That evidence so far does not exist.

So what would justify treating this American any differently from other Americans who have done the unthinkable? That he's an immigrant? That he's Muslim?

The Boston Marathon bombing, and the crime spree and gun battle with police that followed days later, were horrible crimes. An 8-year-old boy lost his life, along with two young women in their 20s and a police officer at a local college. A dozen more were maimed, with arms and legs blown off, their lives forever altered.

But December's massacre of kindergartners at Connecticut's Newtown Elementary School also was a horrible crime, as was last summer's mowing down of moviegoers in Aurora, Colo. The 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, an outright case of homegrown terrorism, killed 168 people, including 19 kids.

Americans were implicated or charged in all of these crimes, and all faced justice in civilian courts.

U.S. law bars discrimination on the basis of race, origin or religion. Holding Tsarnaev to a double standard would diminish the very American values that acts of terrorism like the Boston Marathon bombing are meant to stamp out.

Also read: Religious Discrimination in the Workplace

Are Criminal-Background Checks Discriminatory?

Who Can't Be Sued for Discrimination?

Racial Discrimination: Black Employee Fired After Being Called the N-Word

Salary History Cannot Justify Sex-Based Pay Gaps: U.S. Appeals Court

Women made 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016, according to U.S. Labor Department data.


(Reuters) — A U.S. appeals court on Monday ruled employers cannot use workers' salary histories to justify gender-based pay disparities, saying that would perpetuate a wage gap that is "an embarrassing reality of our economy."

Read More Show Less

We Don't Need 'Lady Teachers' With a Gun, Says State Rep.

The majority of "our ladies," and women teachers, "are scared of guns" and should not be trained in firearms, according to Alabama State Rep. Harry Shiver (R-Stockton).

Alabama State Rep. Harry Shiver (R-Stockton); Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School student and activist Emma González / REUTERS

A state representative from Alabama doesn't believe "lady teachers" should — or want to — carry firearms.

Read More Show Less

Fox News Settles Gender Discrimination Suit with Female Reporter, Says Lawyer

Diana Falzone said she was abruptly taken off air by Fox News after writing an article about her struggle with endometriosis, a medical condition that would likely leave her infertile.


(Reuters) — Journalist Diana Falzone has settled a gender discrimination lawsuit she filed against Fox News and left the company, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Ben Carson's HUD to Scrub Anti-Discrimination Language from Mission Statement

As the Trump administration seeks to cut HUD's funding, the agency is aligning its mission with "the secretary's priorities."

A year after beginning his position of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Ben Carson has decided that it's time to update the agency's mission statement and remove words and phrases like "inclusion" and "free from discrimination."

Read More Show Less

BBC Denies Gender Bias as Women Staff Denounce Unequal Pay

The BBC has been struggling to quell anger among female employees since it had to name its best-paid on-air staff last July and disclose their pay bands.

(Reuters) — Women working for the BBC have complained they are paid less than men in equivalent jobs and accused managers of misleading them about their pay to hide widespread gender discrimination at Britain's public broadcaster.

Read More Show Less

Gay Basher Brownback Wins Confirmation as Ambassador for International Religious Freedom

Tireless bedroom busybody goes international as the champion of religion from the five-children-from-three-women-porn-star-payoff administration.


Sam Brownback, the unpopular Republican governor of Kansas and an enemy of LGBT rights, will be leaving his post to take on a role as international religious freedom ambassador for President Donald Trump's administration.

Read More Show Less

Trump's Administration to Further the Health Care Divide

"The government is set to create a division within Office of Civil Rights to protect conservative medical professionals."

By Alana Winns and Christian Carew

Read More Show Less