When President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006
(MCA) into law, it was a gross usurpation of powers by the Executive
branch. Unfortunately, members of Congress allowed that usurpation to
take place when both the House (by a vote of 250-170) and Senate (by a
vote of 65-34) passed the legislation.
One component of the bill authorizes the president to suspend the
right of habeas corpus — the Constitutionally-protected right that
allows a prisoner to request the reason for his/her incarceration from
a lawful judge. Habeas corpus is specifically discussed in Article 1,
Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution: “The privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion
or invasion the public safety may require it.”
The MCA, however, is patently unconstitutional by denying that right
to certain persons detained. Senator Arlen Specter’s (R-PA) Habeas
Corpus Restoration Act of 2007 (S. 125) would restore habeas corpus
amending the MCA in such a way where that right cannot be denied.
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