Alliance for Justice, January 25, 2007


[Rachel's introduction: Three blockbuster events radically altered our system of governance during 2006. In the first, Congress and Cheney-Bush legalized torture. In the second, the U.S. military stepped up domestic surveillance of U.S. citizens. And in the third Congress abolished the 700-year-old legal procedure called habeas corpus. The U.S. now has all the trappings of a police state though for the most part it is not being run as one -- at least not yet.]

Last September, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), which restricted habeas corpus rights, allowing the government to continue holding prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely with no access to a fair hearing in court.

Indefinite imprisonment without a fair trial or hearing is unconstitutional and fundamentally un-American. Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) have authored legislation to restore the right of habeas corpus.

The impact of the habeas corpus restrictions in the new Military Commission Act go far beyond the walls of Guantanamo prison. The law allows the government to arrest any non-citizen -- including permanent residents in the United States -- and hold them indefinitely without charge and with no access to an attorney or a fair hearing.


There are three important steps you can take:

1. Add your name to the national on-line petition supporting restoration of full habeas corpus rights -- you can read the petition online or below.

To add your name, included below or online, email us at: with your name and organization.

2. Forward this email or our web page to your friends and encourage them to sign the petition.

Our web page for the campaign to restore habeas corpus is at:

3. Send a letter to your Senators and House members supporting the Specter-Leahy-Dodd legislation to restore habeas corpus rights by going to:

The text of the "restore habeas corpus" petition is BELOW and online at



We call on the United States Congress to enact legislation that will restore our Nation's commitment to law and freedom.

In the fall of 2006, Congress passed a law governing military commissions, which included a provision that stripped certain detainees of their habeas corpus rights. Habeas corpus has been the bedrock of our justice system for centuries. The Supreme Court asserted that it "is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action." Without habeas rights, detainees are denied a fair hearing in federal court to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. The government is left free to imprison people indefinitely without charge or trial or other fair hearing, no matter how inhumane the conditions of confinement or the treatment of the detainees. Such a policy is not only unconstitutional, it is also fundamentally un-American and undermines our national character.

It is time to join the scores of lawyers, law deans and professors, politicians, religious leaders and military officials who have condemned the denial of habeas corpus rights to detainees and have called for a restoration of our constitutional values. It is incumbent upon Congress to ensure that our laws reflect who we are as a society, that we are a people committed to accountability and basic fairness. In the face of adversity, adhering to our values does not make us less secure, but rather strengthens us as a nation.

Protect freedom, fairness and due process of law. Restore habeas corpus.


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