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Friday, January 19, 2007

Habeus Corpus

Apparently, Attorney General Gonzales has decided that the write of Habeus Corpus is just another of those "quaint" pre-911 traditions that no longer apply to our society. Or so he stated to the Senate Judiciary Committee:
GONZALES: I will go back and look at it. The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.
"Habeus Corpus" is Latin for a court petition which orders that a person being detained be produced before a judge for a hearing to decide whether the detention is lawful. Habeas corpus is a basic individual right against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. It has been a part of English common law since the Magna Carta, and is enshrined in our constitution, in Article One, Section 9 which states:
"The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."
The writ of habeas corpus is a proceeding in which a court inquires as to the legitimacy of a prisoner's custody. Typically, habeas corpus proceedings are to determine whether the court which imposed sentence on the defendant had jurisdiction and authority to do so, or whether the defendant's sentence has expired. Habeas corpus is also used as a legal avenue to challenge other types of custody such as pretrial detention.

Or it used to. Welcome to Bush's "new and improved" America. Remember the money quote:
"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier - just so long I'm the dictator."
--December 18, 2000


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