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 Politics: Opportunity to Restore Habeas Corpus

AnnouncementsLegislative Action Message from:
FCNL - A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest

The new Congress has the chance to restore one of the oldest and most important checks on arbitrary governmental power, the protection of habeas corpus. This principle -- that no government is above the law and that all detainees can challenge the fairness of their detention in front of an independent court -- has been a cornerstone of Anglo-Saxton legal systems for 800 years.

In 2006, at the president’s request, Congress changed U.S. law so that certain detainees who are not citizens can now be denied the ability to question whether they are being wrongfully detained. We at FCNL believe a majority of senators support restoring habeas corpus rights for non-citizen detainees, but these senators need to be encouraged to act...

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The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185), a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, would restore the right of detainees held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere around the world to challenge the legality of their detention in a U.S. federal court. As of March 1, the legislation has six co-sponsors. In order for the Senate to move forward on this bill, it needs more members’ support, much more support.

Take Action

Please contact your senators and ask them to cosponsor S. 185, the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act. If they are already cosponsors, thank them and urge them to encourage their colleagues to schedule a hearing and a vote on this bill.


U.S. detainees labeled “unlawful enemy combatants,” imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and elsewhere around the world, currently do not have any procedure by which they can petition an independent judicial body to claim that they are being wrongfully detained. In October 2006, with the passage of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), Congress and the president stripped non-citizen detainees of the ability to question the legality of their detention in U.S. federal courts.

The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act (S. 185) is a short, simple bill that would repeal the habeas corpus-stripping provision of the MCA. The bill, introduced by Senators Leahy and Specter, is cosponsored as of March 1 by Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Hillary Clinton (NY), Russ Feingold (WI) and Ken Salazar (CO). We at FCNL are urging more senators to cosponsor this legislation, to urge the Senate to hold hearings on the bill, and to schedule a vote.

Habeas corpus has been a part of Anglo-Saxon legal tradition for nearly 800 years. It is a fundamental principle of the rule of law, protecting detainees from wrongful imprisonment. The Habeas Corpus Restoration Act would right the shameful legislative action in the MCA, and would allow independent courts to examine U.S. detention of non-citizen individuals labeled by the administration as “unlawful enemy combatants.”

Read More

The Military Commissions Act at a Glance

More on habeas corpus


Friends Committee on National Legislation
245 Second St. NE, Washington, DC 20002-5795
[email protected] * http://www.fcnl.org
phone: (202)547-6000 * toll-free: (800)630-1330

We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored.

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