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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Road BACK to Democracy

by SadButTrue
Runs Through HERE

Senators Patrick Leahy and Chris Dodd have re-introduced the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act, an attempt to correct possibly the biggest legislative mistake since the Alabama State Legislature re-defined the value of pi* to be 3.000 in keeping with an obscure bible passage. Simply stated, without habeas all other rights are moot - you need a day in court to state your case. They don't call it the Great Writ for nothing.
Habeas corpus was recklessly undermined in last year’s Military Commissions Act. Like the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the elimination of habeas rights was an action driven by fear, and it was a stain on America’s reputation in the world. This is a time of testing. Future generations will look back to examine the choices we made during a time when security was too often invoked as a watchword to convince us to slacken our defense of liberty and the rule of law.

The Great Writ of habeas corpus is the legal process that guarantees an opportunity to go to court and challenge the abuse of power by the Government. The Military Commissions Act rolled back these protections by eliminating that right, permanently, for any non-citizen labeled an enemy combatant. In fact, a detainee does not have to be found to be an enemy combatant; it is enough for the Government to say someone is “awaiting” determination of that status.

The sweep of this habeas provision goes far beyond the few hundred detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay, and it includes an estimated 12 million lawful permanent residents in the United States today. These are people who work and pay taxes, people who abide by our laws and should be entitled to fair treatment. Under this law, any of these people can be detained, forever, without any ability to challenge their detention in court.

This is wrong. It is unconstitutional. It is un-American.
The suspension of habeas was part of the Military Commissions Act, which conspires with the USA PATRIOT Act, the stacking of the Supreme Court with partisan ideologues, and purging US Attorneys to make way for friendly Bushies to turn the USA into something other than a nation of laws, not men. America, before our very eyes, is devolving into nothing more than a tract of occupied territory separating Canada from Mexico.

While we're on the subject, let me re-iterate something about this subject. As I have said before, this legislation is demonstrably unconstitutional. From Article I, section 9: "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." What part of that is hard to understand? There IS a process for amending the Constitution, Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Which means, my friends that EVERY SINGLE INSTANCE of someone being deprived of their rights is ILLEGAL, though the partisan ideologues of the Supreme Court REFUSED TO EVEN CONSIDER THE MATTER. If men who have sworn oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution conspire to undermine it, who WILL defend it?

One thing is certain. Keep a close eye on those in the legislative branch who fail to back this bill. They are anti-democratic, un-American, even fascistic; and I would say treasonous. There is no argument in favor of this continuing outrage that doesn't go down a road leading away from all democratic, indeed all civilized values.

As Senator Leahy said so beautifully in his statement,
"Whether you are an individual soldier, or a great Nation,
it is difficult to defend the higher ground by taking the lower road.
"
That's a road you just don't want to go down.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Firedoglake has info on a phone campaign to let your representatives in Washington know how you feel about this here and here. The Constitution needs your help NOW. You don't expect those who swore to defend and protect it to do so without your goading, do you?

* - They didn't really re-define the value of pi, that's just an urban myth. Which makes the Military Commissions Act the worst legislative mistake in American history, bar none.

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Cross-posted at Les Enrag├ęs.org

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