The Political Question Doctrine and Civil Liability for Contracting Companies on the “Battlefield”
Review of Litigation
While the use of civilian contractors to support military operations is not a new phenomenon, their use in the War on Terror is unprecedented. The numbers of civilian contractors in active combat zones and the specific activities they perform have significant legal and policy ramifications.
Recent case law associated with civil complaints brought in American courts against contracting companies operating in battlefield environments has given rise to a “political question” doctrine. This doctrine excludes from judicial review all controversies involving policy choices and other value determinations that the Constitution reserves to the Congress and the Executive for resolution.
Due to the complexities involved with the application of the political question doctrine, including determination of the nature and integration of a civilian contractor’s relationship to the military, a thorough overview of this doctrine is necessary. Because political question doctrine represents a formidable jurisdictional shield and will no doubt continue to be a source of jurisprudence and debate in the future, the value of a full understanding of its operation and application can not be overstated.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, The Political Question Doctrine and Civil Liability for Contracting Companies on the “Battlefield”, 28 Rev. of Litig. 343 (2008).