Habeas Corpus Restoration Bill S. 4081

Habeas Corpus Restoration Bill S. 4081 Introduced

By Wayne Olson
Published: 2006-12-07 21:23 Email this page | printer friendly version

ARTICLE SYNOPSIS:

Senate bill S. 4081, the "Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006" was introduced by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) on Dec. 5, to restore the fundamental legal protection of habeas corpus.

Follow this link to the source article: "Statement Of Sen. Patrick Leahy On S. 4081, Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006 …"

COMMENTARY:

Excerpted from Wikipedia, a writ of "Habeas Corpus" orders:

that a prisoner be brought before the court for determination of whether that person is serving a lawful sentence and/or whether 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. (Emphasis added)

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, signed into law on October 17, 2006, suspended habeas corpus for "alien unlawful enemy combatants." They could be imprisoned indefinitely and even tortured without legal recourse. Language within the act apparently places innocent U.S. citizens in jeopardy of the same outcome.

According to the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 9:

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.

On Dec. 5, 2006 while introducing bill S. 4081 to reinstate habeas corpus jurisdiction of the Federal courts, Senator Arlen Specter remarked [See Congressional Record (Senate – Dec. 5, 2006) Page S11197]:

It is my view that the Federal courts will strike down the provisions in the legislation eliminating Federal court jurisdiction for a number of reasons. One is that the Constitution of the United States is explicit that habeas corpus may be suspended only in time of rebellion or invasion. We are suffering neither of those alternatives at the present time. We have not been invaded, and there has not been a rebellion.

Senator Patrick Leahy, cosponsor of bill S. 4081, said in a statement:

  • 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.
  • The Justice Department’s brief says that the Government can detain any non-citizen declared to be an enemy combatant. But the law this Congress passed says the Government need not even make that declaration; they can hold people indefinitely who are just awaiting determination whether or not they are enemy combatants. It gets worse. Republican leaders in the Senate followed the White House’s lead and greatly expanded the definition of "enemy combatants" in the dark of night in the final days before the bill’s passage, so that enemy combatants need not be soldiers on any battlefield. They can be people who give money, or people that any group of decision-makers selected by the President decides to call enemy combatants. The possibilities are chilling. (Emphasis added)

Related Reading: Saving American Lives by Stripping Away our Freedoms and Are YOU the Enemy?

 

Wayne Olson

Wayne is a Research Associate for the John Birch Society.

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