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No Habeas Corpus For You

Spored sent this lovely little pick-me-up. Attorney General Gonzalez manages to stun the Senate Judiciary Committee with his interpretation of the Constitution.

"The Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right of habeas,'' Gonzales told Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
Gonzales acknowledged that the Constitution declares "habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless ... in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.'' But he insisted that "there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution.''

Specter was incredulous, asking how the Constitution could bar the suspension of a right that didn't exist...

Habeas corpus is an extremely important right for us to have. We're pretty much screwed if they decide we don't automatically have such a right. One law prof quoted puts it pretty plainly.

"This is the key protection that people have if they're held in violation of the law,'' said Erwin Chemerinsky, a Duke University law professor who has criticized the administration's actions on civil liberties. "If there's no habeas corpus, and if the government wants to pick you or me off the street and hold us indefinitely, how do we get our release?''[emphasis mine]

This type of "logic" doesn't just affect habeas corpus. Many of the fundamental rights we hold dear aren't directly stated. They're all bestowed by wording saying it can't be taken away. For instance, the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now apply Gonzalez's version of reasoning to that. See the problem?

The only positive thing that occurred was Specter's exchange with Gonzalez.

Gonzales: There is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There's a prohibition against taking it away. ...

Specter: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in cases of rebellion or invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus unless there's an invasion or rebellion?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn't say every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas. Doesn't say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except...

Specter: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

By min | January 25, 2007, 11:00 AM | Liberal Outrage


So I was poking around this morning and it looks like the 9th Amendment kind of covers this topic, in a vague way. Still, stuff like this is why I support using our 2nd Amendment rights. The government would have to think twice about turning the country into a Orwellian dystopia if we were all armed and dangerous.

Also, what if the planet was taken over by talking apes? Ever think of that? Huh? Huh?