September 27, 2006

Save the Writ of Habeas Corpus!

Recent news about the compromise on the military commissions bill that was debated in Congress has focused on article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and relevant US military stipulations regarding torture of detainees. A very critical section of the bill that has not been discussed by the media is the abolishment of the writ of habeas corpus for anyone in the US who is not an American citizen. The passage of this section of the bill would be a disaster for civil and human rights advocates across the US. Abolishing the writ of habeas corpus is slap in the face of the founding fathers of this country. While the bill has passed in the House, it is still up for debate in the Senate, and we still have a chance to try to stop it from passing!

What is the writ of habeas corpus?
A writ of habeas corpus is a court order addressed to a prison official (or other custodian) ordering that a detainee be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he or she should be released from custody. The writ of habeas corpus in common law countries is an important instrument for the safeguarding of individual freedom against arbitrary state action.
This is what the Supreme Court has said about the write of habeas corpus:
the Supreme Court has "recognized the fact that`the writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.' Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969). " Therefore, the writ must be "administered with the initiative and flexibility essential to insure that miscarriages of justice within its reach are surfaced and corrected." Harris, 394 U.S. at 291.
This is what Congress wants to do with the writ; from the Center for Constitutional Rights:
Congress is on the verge of passing a military commissions bill that would authorize the indefinite detention, without access to the courts, of immigrants detained inside or outside of the United States—even if they are not charged with any crime. What began as legislation to regulate the trials of men at Guantánamo has grown so sweeping that it would encompass any non-U.S. citizen picked up anywhere in the world, even permanent legal residents detained inside the United States. This is being voted on in the House of Representatives today and will likely be voted on in the Senate on Thursday. Senators Specter and Levin will be introducing a bipartisan amendment to remove a provision that denies these immigrants access to courts. It is essential that you call your Senators and Representatives and urge them to vote for the Specter Amendment to remove the jurisdiction-stripping provision from the military commissions bill. (more)
Please act now to ensure that out Constitution continues to protect all who reside in this country. Call your members of Congress immediately, especially those listed with contact information below.
Kent Conrad (ND) (202) 224-2043
Joe Lieberman (CT) (202) 224-4041
Ben Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551
James Jeffords (VT) (202) 224-5141
Lincoln Chafee (RI) (202) 224-2921
Richard Lugar (IN) (202) 224-4814
Craig Thomas (WY) (202) 224-6441
Chuck Hagel (NE) (202) 224-4224
Lisa Murkowski (AK) (202) 224-6665
John Sununu (NH) (202) 224-2841
Peter Dominici (NM) (202) 224-6621
Gordon Smith (OR) (202) 224-3753
Arlen Specter (PA) (202) 224-4254
Daniel Inouye (HI) (202) 224-3934
Mary Landrieu (LA) (202) 224-5824
Ron Wyden (OR) (202) 224-5244
Olympia Snowe (ME) (202) 224-5344
Susan Collins (ME) (202) 224-2523
Carl Levin (MI) (202) 224-6221
Hillary Clinton (NY) (202) 224-4451
Richard Durbin (IL) (202) 224-2152
Harry Reid (NV) (202) 224-3542
John Kerry (MA) (202) 224-2742
Lindsey Graham (SC) (202) 224-5972
John Warner (VA) (202) 224-2023
John McCain (AZ) (202) 224-2235

We cannot continue to sit back and watch idly as the Bush administration and their cohorts in Congress tear apart our constitutional rights. If we don't defend our own rights, noone else will!

It only takes a few minutes to write an email or make a phone call to your Senators, but it will take years if not decades to bring back our rights if they are taken away.

[Feel free to repost this on your blog or send it as an email to friends and family. Let's get the word out!]

*Update*: There are some reports that the Senate will be voting on this early this morning, so please call early and call a lot!

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At 10:42 PM, Blogger karendc said...

Thank you for this.


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