GOP filibusters habeas restoration
A Republican filibuster in the Senate today shot down a bipartisan effort to restore the right of terrorism suspects to contest their detentions and treatment in federal courts, underscoring the Democratic-led Congress's difficulty with terrorism issues.Why should you care about habeas corpus? Because it's our greatest constitutional right. Senator Patrick Leahy explains:
The 56-43 vote fell short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and move to a final vote on the amendment to the Senate's annual defense policy bill. But the measure did garner the support of six Republicans, a small victory for its supporters.
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 representatives from diverse political beliefs and backgrounds that the mistake committed in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 must be corrected.The only Northwest senators voting to filibuster were Larry Craig and Mike Crapo of Idaho. Senators Murray, Cantwell, Wyden, and Smith voted in favor of ending debate, joining 52 of their other colleagues, mostly Democrats.
The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007, S.186, the bill on which this amendment is based, has 30 cosponsors. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported it on a bipartisan basis. I hope Senators will review the Committee report on this measure.
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.
Republican senators supporting the filibuster who are retiring included John Warner of Virginia and Wayne Allard of Colorado. Susan Collins also supported the filibuster - we hope Tom Allen doesn't let the people of Maine forget that.