Grassley Votes Against Habeas Corpus, Against Freedom

Habeas Corpus, written in 1670, is called the Great Writ. Supreme Court Cases have…

“recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.'

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary passed the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act out of committee by a vote of 11-8. All Democrats voted for it, plus Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA). The rest of the Republicans voted against it, including Iowa's Charles Grassley. Maybe Grassley is against individual freedom or maybe he is in favor of lawless state action.

Last night, Keith Olbermann covered this vote by having George Washington law professor Jonathon Turley on. Here is part of the transcript


Olbermann: … It is easy to imagine Americans who are patriotic but scared, who could just sort of dismiss habeas corpus and other civil liberties as luxuries that make us weak right now. Explain why that's exactly backwards, why they're not luxuries, why they're necessities that make us strong.


Turley: First of all, habeas corpus is sometimes treated like some trick by a Philadelphia lawyer. It is actually the foundation for all other rights. When the government throws you into a dungeon for what you say or who you pray to, it's habeas corpus that's the right that allows you to see the enforcement of the other rights. So without habeas corpus, the rest of it is just aspirational and meaningless.


The danger when you walk away from these values, these rights that define us have been proven by this president. The greatest irony of the Bush Administration is that his legacy will be to show the dangers of walking away from those rights that define us. We’re very much alone today. He can’t go to Canada without people protesting, Miss America can’t even go to Mexico without being booed. We’re viewed as a rogue nation and it is a dangerous world to live in when you’re alone. In Italy, they're prosecuting in abstentia our own agents. This doesn't make us safer…. It's very interesting that the lesson this president may leave for his successors is that whether you are inclined to walk away from those core rights or not, that is what puts us in the greatest danger.


Olbermann: The right to bear arms, to believe your religion or to not believe any religion at all, to say what you want, these rights get people fired up, no matter what side of the debate they're on. Is not habeas corpus essential to all of them? You don't have that, it doesn't matter what the second amendment says?

  Turley: That's right…. all those rights are meaningless [without habeas corpus] because it's habeas corpus that allows you to get to a court who can hear your complaint. So without habeas corpus it's just basically words that have no meaning, and this president has shown the dangers of the assertion of absolute power. He has asserted the right to take an American citizen, declare them unilaterally an enemy combatant and deny them all rights. The courts have said otherwise and now Congress will say otherwise.

Sen. Russ Feingold had this to say about fighting terrorism…

Without freedom, we are not America. If we don't preserve our liberties, we cannot win this war, no matter how many terrorists we capture or kill.

With Sen. Grassley voting against Habeas Corpus, does that mean he wants the terrorists to win?


Cross posted at Century of the Common Iowan

Tags: Grassley

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