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Habeas Corpus Challenge

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Still stewing about what Attorney General "Jackboots" Gonzales said about Habeas Corpus, I set out to gain a better understanding of the history behind the Great Writ. Within a few short clicks, it became apparent that Habeas Corpus has been part of civilized life for quite some time. One writer placed it all the way back with the Romans. Many attribute it to Magna Charta, while others point to the Habeas Corpus Act in England in the year 1679.
Here's the afore mentioned offending exchange between Arlen Specter and Alberto Gonzales:
Gonzales: "There is no expressed grant of habeas in the Constitution; there's a prohibition against taking it away." 
Specter: "Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's a rebellion or invasion?"
Gonzales: "The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says the right shall not be suspended except in cases of rebellion or invasion".
What is Habeas Corpus? Bouvier's Law Dictionary, (1859), Vol. I, p. 573. defines it as, "A writ of habeas corpus is an order in writing, signed by the judge who grants the same, and sealed with the seal of the court of which he is a judge, issued in the name of the sovereign power where it is granted, by such a court or a judge thereof, having lawful authority to issue the same, directed to any one having a person in his custody or under his restraint, commanding him to produce such person at a certain time and place, and to state the reasons why he is held in custody, or restraint." A Writ of Habeas Corpus is a Latin legal phrase, meaning: "That you have the body." It provides relief for those imprisoned to be brought before a judge to determine the lawfulness of their imprisonment. It protects ordinary people from being held incommunicado by tyrannical governments.
Referring to our Declaration of Independence where it states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." By this declaration, the common man was at once placing himself on the same footing as kings. As such, the common man was claiming for himself all the Rights once enjoyed only by kings. One of these rights is, naturally, the right to petition the courts for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Let me stop here and make one point perfectly clear: at this point in American history, the current Constitution did not exist, yet all Americans claimed this important right. Again, it existed well before the creation of our Constitution and it will exist well after the Constitution turns to dust. We have always had this right and we always will, regardless of what governments say.
When it comes to unlawful imprisonment...
Should it matter?
This brings me to my challenge for you, dear reader: I challenge anyone to find in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights or any of the other Amendments where it says (1) that there is a grant by government to Habeas Corpus and (2) that there is a distinction made between Americans and "foreigners" as to whom may claim that right that many claim exists. I propose that the Constitution does not grant any right to Habeas Corpus; it is unalienable, i.e. acquired at birth. I further claim that all individuals, without regard to origin, have this right. And finally, I claim that our Constitution merely restricts the federal government from abridging this right for individuals without making the distinction of nationality. In other words, Habeas Corpus is not a reserved right only for American Citizens.


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