Thousands Gather on Capitol Hill to Restore Law and Justice

June 26, 2007 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Thousands of Americans traveled from across the nation to Capitol Hill to demand that Congress restore due process rights, and the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution. Over eighty organizations, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International USA, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, came together to organize a rally and lobby visits to Congress. In addition to the rally, attendees at the Day of Action to Restore Law & Justice delivered over 250,000 petition signatures to Washington lawmakers, urging them to:

1. Restore habeas corpus and due process.
2. Pass the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007.
3. End torture and abuse in secret prisons.
4. Stop extraordinary rendition: secretly kidnapping people and sending them to countries that torture.
5. Close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay and give those held currently access to justice.
6. Investigate wrongdoing and ensure those who broke the law are held accountable.
7. Return to the rule of law.

“Thousands of Americans have come together to tell their elected officials that the country is on the wrong track and that we need to restore our basic liberties,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. “The great writ of habeas corpus upon which this great nation was founded must be restored. The accused have the right to due process, and cannot be held indefinitely without charge.”

“Today, Americans are gathering around the country from Springfield to New York City to Albuquerque to Washington to demand that our leaders return this country back to the rule of law,” said Larry Cox, AIUSA Executive Director. “When did it become acceptable for our government to hold people indefinitely just on the president’s word? As we mark the World Day in Support of Victims and Survivors of Torture today, remember that basic human dignity and due process are of the cornerstone of justice and human rights.”

Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, added, “DeToqueville said, after his journey to the U.S., that America is great because America is good. The religious community is deeply concerned that U.S.-sponsored torture has diminished the goodness of our nation. Because torture violates the basic dignity of any person, it is always wrong – with no exceptions.”

“America became a great nation by understanding that its power comes from the liberty of its people,” said Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. “And the struggles for equality of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s pushed America to live up to its ideals. Congress must act now to send a message to the world – and to those who would abuse power – that regardless of what is going on in the world, our civil rights and liberties remain the cornerstone of our democracy.”

“We’re here to send a message to Capitol Hill – members of Congress must act now to reverse the damage done by the Military Commissions Act and to restore respect for constitutional rights,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “For the past six years, the Bush administration has worked tirelessly to tear down our basic civil liberties and the rule of law. Restoring habeas protections is just a first step toward repairing the damage, but it’s a vital step.

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