Habeas Corpus

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States, Habeas corpus Pages: 5 (1712 words) Published: March 17, 2014
Habeas Corpus
POL 201 American National Government
Instructor Lee Davis
January 20, 2014

In the Judiciary Act of 1789, the courts granted the power to issue habeas corpus to prisoners in federal custody. What does the United States do with enemy combatants? Should they be protected under habeas corpus? In this paper, I will discuss the role of habeas corpus and if it should be used on enemy combatants of war on terror.

In English habeas corpus was passed by King Charles II in 1679. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 became known as the Habeas Corpus Parliament of England. This Parliament helped explain the old habeas corpus from 1640. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 came from an earlier Act of 1640. The Habeas Corpus Act came around because of Earl Shaftesbury; he encouraged his friends to introduce the Act in the Commons. This was where it was passed and then sent up to the House of Lords. The Act flip-flopped between two houses, where it was voted on to set up a conference. The Habeas Corpus Act was passed in the United States, in February, 1867. This act expanded the jurisdiction of the federal courts to issues habeas corpus and amended the Judiciary Act of 1789. The Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the court powers to issue habeas corpus to any individuals who may held of their liberty of violation of the Constitution. However, prior to the passage of the Judiciary Act, detainees in custody of any state who wanted to challenge their imprisonment could petition for a court order of habeas corpus, in state court only. In September 1863, President Lincoln suspended the habeas corpus right throughout the whole United States. This pertained to military, naval, and civil officers of the United States. However, two years before in 1861, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus for all military-related court cases, in Washington, D.C. According to Article I of the U.S. Constitution, “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 passing of the Habeas Corpus Act, gave President Lincoln the power to suspend habeas corpus. In Latin, habeas corpus means “you have the body”. This is a court order where people have the ability to be seen before a judge while under arrest. Also, this would allow the courts to decide whether or not the government has the right to keep holding them. Habeas corpus is an English law, however it does not appear to be anywhere in the Bill of Rights. It has such significance that it has since been placed in the Constitution. Since habeas corpus has such significance that the Bill of Rights as well as other rights are dependent on it. Therefore, without habeas corpus, the importance of all rights would crumble. The Framers of the Constitution thought the right of habeas corpus was important as they knew from personal experience how it was to be labeled enemy combatants, imprisoned indefinitely and not have the chance to appear before a judge. The Founders were more committed to protect Americans from government abuse.

President Lincoln and President Bush did almost the exact same things when fighting the war on terror; however they also did things differently. Both President Lincoln and Bush suspended habeas corpus as they had powers granted to them as Commander In Chief of the United States military during the time in war. President Lincoln suspended the rights of habeas corpus to United States citizens. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The purpose of this act was to “To authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes”. President Bush stated, “The right of habeas corpus should be denied only to aliens detained by the United States”. President Bus held prisoners for long periods without the chance to appear before the judge. He also attempted to set up a court of justice for terror suspects.

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References: Clark, Josh. How the U.S. President works Retrieved from http://people.howstuffworks.com/president5.htm
Habeas Corpus. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/habeas_corpus
Wogan B.J. (2012, December). Many enemy combatants still lack habeas rights Retrieved from http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/obameter/promise/181/restore-habeas-corpus-rights-for-enemy-combatants/
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