Habeas Paper

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Habeas Corpus Today
POL 201 American National Government
Instructor Robert Dunaway
February 11, 2013

Habeas Corpus Today Today’s war on terror seems to still be as alive and emotional in many minds of Americans, in the aftermath of a day I will never forget, September 11, 2001 when the Pentagon where I worked was hit by terrorists; and this seemingly never ending war still has the president, congress, and Supreme Court deeply involved in debate on Habeas Corpus and civil liberty issues. In the aftermath we find ourselves in a never ending, costly, and highly debatable war on terror. In this paper I will discuss what Habeas Corpus means, its history, and its effect on the “War on Terror” and debates concerning detainees at GITMO. I will also show how the term enemy combatant has also stirred up controversy. Next I will discuss some of the roles of the president, congress and the Supreme Court take in implementation and suspension of Habeas Corpus in regards at the cost of civil liberties. Finally, I will discuss my philosophy about the balance between civil liberties and national security concerning this long, drawn out war. Do you think it will ever end and the president, congress, and Supreme Court resolve their differences of opinions on Habeas Corpus? Let me begin by first discussing the basic concept of Habeas Corpus and its history. Habeas Corpus in a nut shell is wrongful detention by a law official or even a person without a determination of guilt or innocence. Is the person legally detained with some type of evidence or not and do they have a right to their day in court? In essence, it is an infringement on a person’s civil liberties. A Latin term from “you may have the body”, it has been a subject of debate over the years from the time of origin to today with the War on Terror. Let us talk about its origin. Habeas Corpus officially originated from the English with the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act in 1679, although the first use of it was tracked back to the 12th Century and the first written use of it was in 1305 was by Sir William Blackstone according to a BBC news article (2005). Also noted was how originally it was used by Kings to bring prisoners to court, yet it turned around and later became an act to protect a person for wrongful imprisonment and they queried the judge. The British and many countries have suspended Habeas Corpus Act at times, but in most cases it was always in a time of social disarray or war, with the most recent in England with the passing of “The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001” and our “USA Patriot Act of 2011”, in the aftermath of 9/11. Habeas Corpus in the United States was outlined in our Constitution by the framers to continue to protect the freedom and liberties of individuals, as well as instill a check and balance between the Federal Government and the states. Prior to the nineteenth century Habeas Corpus was primarily used before conviction. After the civil war however, it has been used mostly by prisoners petitioning the federal courts, to review and overturn their conviction from the states. Although the check and balance system set forth by our founding fathers, the federal court would make sure at all costs that the member did use every means available first within their state for appeals. If the federal court did get a case however, the prisoner could have the case returned to state court or be released (Federman, 2010). Also emphasized by Federman (2010) was the importance of the Supreme Court case Brown versus Allen was in ensuring it was known that the federal government made sure it a state would not have a final word on constitutional issues, thus supporting what the 1867 Habeas Corpus Act represents and protects all prisoners who believe their Constitutional liberties were violated. When we look at our court system, we do all believe it is a fair system set up to protect our rights and