The Military Commissions Act and the Writ of Habeas Corpus
An attorney by the name of Adam J. White had an article in yesterday’s Weekly Standard where he explained how the Military Commissions Act passed by Congress last week affected the right to petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Here’s the outline of his explanation…
- The Constitution establishes the right of American citizens to petition the courts for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, i.e. the right of American citizens to have the courts determine if they have been unlawfully imprisoned.
- Congress has the power to extend Habeus Corpus rights to a wider population than American citizens by statute, which it has done at various times in its history.
- In the 1950 case Johnson v. Eisentrager, the Supreme Court ruled that statutory extensions to Habeas Corpus “did not extend habeas relief to alien military personnel held overseas” (Mr. White’s description).
- In the 2004 case Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme Court ignored its own Eisentrager precedent and ruled that statutory extensions of the Writ of Habeas Corpus did extend habeas relief to foreign combatants being held at Guantanamo Bay.
- Part of Congress’ purpose in passing the Military Commissions Act was to restore the scope of Habeas Corpus to what had been established by the Supreme Court in Eisentrager.
In case you were wondering, all four of Rhode Island’s Congressional Representatives; Senators Jack Reed and Lincoln Chafee, and Congressmen James Langevin and Patrick Kennedy, voted against the Military Commissions Act.