Wednesday, September 19, 2007

R.I.P. Habeas Corpus, One More Time

At Runnymeade in 1215 King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta limiting the power of the monarch and recognizing that he was subject to the rule of law. In particular for our purposes here today Articles 38 and 39 said:

"38. No bailiff for the future shall, upon his own unsupported complaint, put anyone to his "law", without credible witnesses brought for this purposes.

39. No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned or disseised or exiled or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him nor send upon him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

This is not meant to be a history lesson so suffice it to say that we incorporated this same sentiment, called habeas corpus (technically produce the body) into our Constitution. It does not grant an absolute right but allows it to be suspended by the Legislative Branch. "Article I of the Constitution outlines the powers and limits of the Legislative Branch of government (Article 2 lays out the Executive Branch, and Article 3 defines the Judicial Branch). In Section 9, Clause 2 of Article I, the Constitution says of the Legislative branch's authority: "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.""

Sometimes the only answer is Molly Ivins of blessed memory. Nearly one year ago she wrote an obituary for Habeas Corpus. Today we mourn again. Today's vote in the Senate to restore habeas corpus won by a vote of 56 to 43. Unfortunately 60 votes are required to overcome the zealous fascists who hate the Constitution. Christy at Firedoglake has details including where to phone your senators as well as days of details. But if your "click" finger is somehow impaired, here is the list of those who voted against the Constitution.

Alexander (R-TN)
Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Coleman (R-MN)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dole (R-NC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lott (R-MS)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Warner (R-VA)

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