Monday, October 1, 2007

The death of habeas corpus?

Lawbabe is the online moniker I chose several years ago when I realized that the Internet often demands anonymity. It was a phase, but it stuck with me. Now there are people all over the country who know me only by that name. My colleagues in the bar snicker at it, since they know that I haven't been a babe for a long time, and it seems a counter-intuitive handle for someone as serious as I can be about serious things.

Take human rights, for example.

Here is a photo of one of my personal heroes, walking in a Fourth of July parade as a handcuffed version of habeas corpus.

He is an Episcopal priest who guided me through a return to political consciousness after several years of being a sixties Hippy Babe. I will let him remain as anonymous as I am for now, since he is so well-hooded in this photo. However, he has never been anonymous in his years of asserting the case for human rights, and he actually seems to have even stepped up the pace lately.

This is patriotic action, in case you don't recognize it. Nothing is more precious to our U. S. citizenship than these words from the U. S. Constitution:

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

A little elementary Latin in case you slept through Civics 101: Habeas corpus is translated as "you have the body." It is an ancient legal writ used by those imprisoned to seek their release when no cause for their detention has been presented. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 has permanently suspended this right in the post-9/11 "war" on terrorism. Many legal scholars believe that the suspension of habeas corpus violates the above provision from the Constitution, in the absence of an actual invasion or rebellion. Even the Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, Arlen Specter, thinks Congress should rethink the issue of the legal rights of detainees.

The current occupier of the White House wishes to preempt any potential rebellion and invasion to such an extent that we must be willing to set aside the very rights upon which this country was founded and pretend that it is true patriotism. Ah, if he had only an iota of the patriotic loyalty that my priest friend has.


Gita said...

So true. And one of my big regrets is that the Alabama delegation to Congress has propped up the president's policies. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby, our fine upstanding senators, vote in lockstep with the president. Particularly hideous is the fact that they blocked the immigration reform law while voting FOR torture and the detention of prisoners without counsel at Guantanamo. I blog about this regularly, by the way, at

giddocliff said...

The incompetent frat boy who resides in said White House is a danger both to himself and all others. By the way, I was sent your blog address by our mutual friend in Atlanta. As for human rights, they're eroding even as I write.

silverwings said...

let us not forget the dems are also in control and have contributed nothing to change things.

sure there have been hearings and much has been exposed - but much less has been done to stop the home grown terrorism and gutting of the constitution and bill of the rights - so be careful of the blame game - everyone is accountable - even if it is thru default - that includes us the "US" is us.

yes we have a frat boy and a bunch of snots in the executive branch - but there are americans who need an attitude adjustment and many more people are are stunned, silent and just not reactive.

was it really the draft that kept this country honest? - kinda looks that way - sad commentary.

jennifer said...

thank you, lawbabe --
I'm catching up with your blog bit by bit and I find this piece particularly compelling.