Category : habeas corpus
In a 5-4 decision today, the Supreme Court has reinstated the rights of all imprisoned citizens and non-citizens on USA soil to file a petition in their local Federal Court to protest their incarceration. The court affirmed that Habeas Corpus petitions are as alive and relevant today as they were in 1215 AD when King John of England agreed to them.
Habeas Corpus Petitions Extend to Citizens and Non-Citizens Alike
This decision by the Supreme Court is a little unique in that the rights are extended to non-citizens as well as citizens. Also, the rights exist on property leased by the United States. There will not be two classes of courts for two classes of citizenship. No longer will it matter if you are an American Citizen or a resident Alien, each will be allowed to have their voice heard in a Federal Courtroom closest to them. The Guantanamo Bay Navel facility is leased to the US Navy from the Cuban government.
The court did not go, as far as to say that the Military Tribunals that were determining the guilt or innocence of the enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay were constitutional or unconstitutional. Currently the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) provides for the procedures used to determine the “detainees” status. In addition to suspending Habeas Corpus Petitions for detainees, the DTA allows for a three-member tribunals to determine if a prisoner is properly labeled an enemy combatant. The military tribunals can rely on classified information to make this determination, even though the same evidence is not given to the prisoner to examine. The tribunals are required to assume that the evidence is genuine and reliable. The prisoners are granted a “personal representatives” but they are not lawyers.
Habeas Corpus Important Part of U.S. Law
Justice Kennedy writing for the majority of the court stated, “Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our armed forces to act and interdict. There are further considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers. It is from these principles that the judicial authority to consider petitions for habeas corpus relief derives.
The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The framers [of the US Constitution] decided that habeas corpus, a right of the first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.”
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