Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



This Note analyzes the United States policy of abducting fugitives from abroad to stand trial when an asylum nation refuses an extradition request. The United States has justified this so-called "snatch" authority under the century-old Ker-Frisbie Doctrine. Pursuant to this doctrine, the Supreme Court has refused to examine the means by which a person has been brought before a court. In 1974, however, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit created a narrow exception that would bar jurisdiction if an accused proved acts of torture, but no defendant has ever met this standard.

Since Ker and Frisbie were decided, international and United States law have focused more on human rights and individual integrity and thus have antedated the Ker-Frisbie doctrine. Nevertheless, in light of an aggressive posture toward the war on drugs, neither the Bush Administration nor the Rehnquist Court currently seems willing to abandon the Ker-Frisbie doctrine.

This Note concludes that the snatch policy may be a necessary tool in the war on drugs, but that a limitless Ker-Frisbie doctrine fails to account for the increased sensitivity to human rights and individual integrity. The author proposes that meaningful due process limitations on the doctrine still would allow for a tough fight in the war on drugs, but would preserve the values underlying human rights and United States constitutional law.