ACLU Applauds House Armed Services Hearing on Restoring Habeas Corpus Due Process Rights

July 26, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union was encouraged today by the House Armed Services Committee hearing titled Upholding the Principle of Habeas Corpus for Detainees. The committee discussed Chairman Ike Skelton’s (D-MO) proposed bipartisan legislation restoring the due process right of habeas corpus that was taken away by the Military Commissions Act last fall. The ACLU hopes this hearing will lead to the enactment of Chairman Skelton’s bill.

“Chairman Skelton and the House Armed Services Committee should be commended for trying to restore our nation’s Constitution and the rule of law. Returning habeas corpus should be a top priority of this Congress, and Chairman Skelton’s bill is a good first step,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “To let a president define who is an enemy combatant and then order those people held indefinitely and without charge at places like Guantanamo Bay undermines our core American values. In the November 2006 elections, the American people demanded Congress rein in the Bush administration’s shredding of the Constitution. Chairman Skelton is acting on that call for reform.”

H.R. 2826, sponsored by Chairman Skelton, is a bipartisan bill that would restore the constitutional due process right of habeas corpus that the Congress and the president took away with the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), a law pushed through by President Bush just weeks before the midterm elections.

“Today’s hearing takes us one step closer to restoring our Constitution and undoing the wrongs of Guantanamo Bay,” said Christopher Anders, legislative counsel for the ACLU. “Many retired admirals and generals, including Colin Powell, say that habeas due process rights should not be denied to anyone. Part of what makes America great is that Americans believe that the Constitution and our laws apply to everyone; there should be no legal black hole. The ACLU looks forward to the day when habeas corpus is signed back into law. Chairman Skelton and the Armed Services Committee have taken the lead on this front in the House – and for that, we applaud them.”

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