On Friday, Sens. Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) plan to introduce an amendment restoring the habeas corpus protections stripped as a result of last year’s Military Commissions Act. The legislation would restore basic civil liberties to roughly 12 million legal permanent residents of the United States. From Leahy’s statement:
Last year, Congress committed an historic mistake by suspending the Great Writ of habeas corpus — not just for those confined at Guantanamo Bay, but for millions of legal residents in the United States. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing in May on this bill illustrated the broad agreement among people of diverse political beliefs and backgrounds that the mistake committed in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 must be corrected. This Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 has 25 cosponsors, and the Senate Judiciary Committee passed it last month on a bipartisan basis.
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.
Contact your senators and urge them to support the Habeas Restoration Act.