Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 (S. 185) Introduced by Leahy & Spector

Congressional Record: January 4, 2007 (Senate), Page S179-S181 Excerpts:
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I seek recognition today to introduce the ``Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007.'' Last September, during debate on the Military Commissions Act, I introduced an amendment to strike section 7 of the Act and thereby preserve the constitutional right of habeas corpus for the approximately 450 individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay. Because my amendment was not agreed to, by a narrow vote of 48-51, the right to the writ of habeas corpus was denied to those detainees. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus has therefore been suspended. On December 5, with my colleague Senator Leahy, I introduced the ``Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2006'' to restore the writ of habeas corpus and bring this country back into compliance with the United States Constitution. After all, the United States Constitution is unambiguous in Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2, where it 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.'' Today, along with Senator Leahy, I am reintroducing this important legislation. The Framers explicitly extended to extend habeas protections to all, absent a case of rebellion, invasion, or the interest of public safety. This principle was ratified by the Supreme Court in the case of Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, where Justice O'Connor stated ``[a]ll agree that absent suspension, the writ of habeas corpus remains available to every individual detained within the United States.''
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, on the first day of this new Congress, I join Senator Specter to reintroduce a bill to restore the Great Writ of habeas corpus, a cornerstone of American liberty since the founding of this Nation. The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 bill continues our efforts to amend last year's Military Commissions Act, to right a wrong and to restore a basic protection to American law. This is an issue on which we continue to work together and urge Senators on both sides of the aisle to join with us. As Justice Scalia wrote in the Hamdi case: ``The very core of liberty secured by our Anglo-Saxon system of separated powers has been freedom from indefinite imprisonment at the will of the Executive.'' The remedy that secures that most basic of freedoms is habeas corpus. It provides a check against arbitrary detentions and constitutional violations. It guarantees an opportunity to go to court, with the aid of a lawyer, to prove one's innocence. This fundamental protection was rolled back in an unprecedented and unnecessary way in the run up to last fall's election by passage of the Military Commissions Act. I deeply regret that Senator Specter and I were unsuccessful in our efforts to stop this injustice when the President and the Republican leadership insisted on rushing the Military Commissions Act through Congress in the weeks before the recent elections. We proposed an amendment that would have removed the habeas-stripping provision from the Military Commissions Act. We fell just three votes short in those political charged days. It is my hope that the new Senate and new Congress will reconsider this matter, restore this fundamental protection and revitalize our tradition of checks and balances. Giving Government such raw, unfettered power as this law does should concern every American. More on website.

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