Secrecy News

Specter, Leahy Introduce Bill to “Restore” Habeas Corpus

In another sign of shifting ground in the post-election Congress, Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy yesterday introduced the “Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006,” which would reinstate federal court jurisdiction over Guantanamo detainees and other suspected enemy combatants.

The bill would repeal two provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 enacted in September that limit habeas corpus. “Habeas corpus” refers to the ability of a detainee to seek judicial review of his case.

“The Constitution of the United States is explicit that habeas corpus may be suspended only in time of rebellion or invasion,” observed Sen. Specter. “We are suffering neither of those alternatives at the present time. We have not been invaded, and there has not been a rebellion.”

“This bill would restore the great writ of habeas corpus, a cornerstone of American liberty for hundreds of years that Congress and the President rolled back in an unprecedented and unnecessary way with September’s Military Commissions Act,” said Senator Leahy.

See the introduction of the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act here.

0 thoughts on “Specter, Leahy Introduce Bill to “Restore” Habeas Corpus

  1. If illegal wiretaps and e-mail intercepts were the tip of the iceberg, the elimination of habeas corpus was the rest (i.e., the other six-sevenths of it).

    Couched in terms of protecting us from “the evil ones,” the Bush administration and Republican Congress think they can get away with anything. What Americans might not have realized about the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is that it effectively eliminated habeas for all of us — since once you are incarcerated it doesn’t matter whether you’re a soccer mom, Catholic nun or a white Anglo-Saxon Boy Scout, you don’t get the chance to prove you’re not a terrorist, or even find out why you’re in jail.

    Americans who want their constitutional rights restored can take heart in the fact that Patrick Leahy, the incoming chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is from libertarian New England. What we need to worry about, however, is that if and when the Democrats take the legislative measures necessary to do so, they won’t have enough votes to override a presidential veto — and that Dubya has already issued more than 800 “signing statements” reserving the alleged right of the executive branch to selectively enforce or not enforce laws enacted by Congress.

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