What is Habeas Corpus?

Common Dreams
by Larry Beinhart

01/31/07

What is Habeas Corpus? Is it some obscure Latin legalism? One of the tricky clauses the ACLU uses to get evildoers out of jail? Does it mean the prosecution has to show a body in a murder case? Or is it the basis of your protection from tyranny? It is the right to be brought into court. It is fundamental to — and a sort of shorthand for — the right to be in a legal system, with laws and judges, evidence and a defense. … Without Habeas Corpus you can be swept up off the street and never heard from again. Period. Nobody has to know. Nobody — including yourself — has to know why. Nobody gets to determine if there is a law against what you’re charged with. You have no rights at all. In America, the Constitution forbids taking habeas corpus away from you (except ‘in case of rebellion or invasion the public safety shall require it.’) It was written that way because the right of habeas corpus was a basic right even under the King of England. It was the most basic check on a king’s tyranny. It was assumed. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales now asserts something he thinks is very tricky and clever. What if you never had such a right? Then not giving you the right of Habeas Corpus would not be taking it away...

//www.commondreams.org/views07/0131-22.htm


Informant: Thomas L. Knapp



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