October 16, 2007

Habeas Corpus

"No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land." Magna Carta, Article 39 (1215). This is the "great writ," habeus corpus. In practice it requires the government to actually produce a defendant and try him in a properly constituted court of law before it imprisons him. It prevents the government from making people disappear.

I read a great article this morning: Is Habeus Corpus a Corpse?, Craig Eley, The Docket, Vol. 29, Issue 9 (Denver Bar Association, October 2007). Mr. Eley makes an excellent point about Alberto Gonzales' treatment of habeus corpus:

Mr. Gonzales' position is that, since the constitution doesn't affirmatively grant the right to habeus, we Americans don't actually have that right. Never mind that the constitution says the government can suspend habeus in times of rebellion or invasion. (U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 9.) But by Mr. Gonzales' logic, Americans also don't have the rights to free speech, free press, peaceful assembly, free exercise of religion, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances. Why? Because the U.S. Constitution doesn't affirmatively grant those rights. Rather, it states that Congress may not abridge those rights. (U.S. Constitution, First Amendment.)

I love it! What a smarty pants. :)


Valerie said...

I love someone summing up someone else's point with the word 'smartypants'.


(Yes, I have nothing intelligent to add. The Gonzales point is a nice scary thought for Halloween though...)

Red Flashlight said...

Me, I'm in the deep fall funk of brain sloth. I've got nothing very creative to say. Some days I'm lucky I stay awake at all.

Double whammy: I went to a 6 hour deposition this week. Downed a whoooole lot of coffee. Then tapped my toes to the music in my head all night long.

Poor Scott.


Valerie said...

Ok any more colorful cake tastings? Habeus is corpusing my ass... (or is that the other way around....)

Oh, update my own blog you say? Humpf, well I never!