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Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus and the War on Terror

American National Government

Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus and the War on Terror
Introduction
The constitution of the US grants every citizen civil liberty and freedom. According to the Habeas corpus, a person should not be detained without a just and legal cause. It is a legal precedent that evolved in both the English and American traditions. The Habeas corpus is an important individual right in the US constitution that supersedes the other first ten amendments. However, Habeas Corpus is significant when combating terror. Thesis statement: the non-American terror suspects have the civil right of habeas corpus.
The writ of habeas corpus According to the constitution of the US Article One and Section nine, “an accused individual has the right of habeas corpus unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it" (Mason, 2011, p.12). As earlier defined and described, the accused persons have the right of habeas corpus that allows their detention to be interpreted in courts of law to establish whether they are being held legally. Nevertheless, the right of habeas corpus safeguards the civil liberties because it is the foundation of our constitutional democracy. Notably, the right of habeas corpus protects individuals from unlawful imprisonment at all times including war on terror. The US constitution ingrains the right of habeas corpus in order to protect detainee's civil liberties. It implies that the government must try the criminal suspects and detainees in a court of law and avoid detaining them for a long period without trial. The right of habeas corpus is an important individual right that comes first before other individual rights are addressed. There has been a case of detainees and criminal suspects in USA being held indefinitely by U.S police and military. However, the right of habeas corpus is there to protect their civil liberties and freedoms. It ensures a fair trial to the detained persons because it allows them to know why they are being held (Wagstaff, 2014). The courts are entitled to order the custodian of detained individuals such as the police to prosecute the accused individuals by providing proof to justify why they are being held indefinitely. In a nutshell, the right of habeas corpus checks on unlawful detention of accused individuals in order to protect their civil liberties as incorporated in the constitution.
Evolution of habeas corpus Earlier on, the government officials in England abused their powers by holding people indefinitely without a fair trial. The right of habeas corpus becomes popular among the majority citizens (landowners) that had been oppressed because it catered for their rights. It evolved from the English common law traditions. The right of habeas corpus was called the Magna charter back in 12th century. The landowners applied the Magna charter against King John in 1215. The Magna Charta stated that, "no free man shall be seized, imprisoned, outlawed, exiled, or injured in any way, nor will we enter on him or send against him except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land"(Commons, 2006, p. 98). The rivalry between the common-law courts and the feudal courts compelled the common-law courts to issue rights of habeas corpus for the detained landowners to be released due to the lack of procedural consistency within the legal framework. Remember that the local landowners controlled the feudal courts whilst the legal professionals made the common-law courts in England. The common-law courts provided the detained persons with civil liberties after being applied for the first time in 13th. According to the studies, the issue of the right of habeas corpus by the common-law courts between 16th and 17th century played a key role in ensuring that suspects detained by admiralty courts, the Star Chamber and the Chancery were released indefinitely (Kent, 2012). The only condition that allows law enforcing agencies and government officials to suspend the right of habeas corpus is during the invasion of US public safety and rebellion. The right of habeas corpus has been suspended severally in the US. First and foremost, President Abraham Lincoln ordered the suspension of the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War in 1861. The generals were ordered to arrest dangerous criminals causing mayhem in the country. Moreover, the right of habeas corpus was suspended in 1863 by the Congress to allow the Union army to detain the accused individual as they waited for trial in the civilian courts. However, the Union army ignored the law suspending the right of habeas corpus and went ahead to try the suspects under court martial (Wheeler & Becker, 2011). The federal courts were granted the power to hear petitions of detainees seeking the right of habeas corpus after the judiciary Acts of 1789 and 1789 were passed. The above Acts allowed the courts to issue the detainees with the right of habeas corpus upon violation of the law, treaty and the Constitution. According to the interpretation of the Supreme Court, the judiciary Acts allowed the federal courts to hear the petitions regarding the right of habeas corpus to both the federal and state detainees (Kettl, 2013).
The suspension of habeas corpus in the US According to the US constitution, the authority and power to conduct war is divided between the executive and the Congress as stipulated under Article II and Article I respectively. Thus, the Congress has the power to declare war and support and raise armies and navy. However, the same Article I empowers the Congress to suspend the right of habeas corpus specifically during rebellion and invasion of the public safety. Likewise, Article II of the Constitution gives the executive the power to command the armed forces during the rebellion that is the president is bestowed the powers to be the commander-in-chief of both the Navy and Army. However, the constitution gives the Congress the power to impeach the president in case he abuses the military powers bestowed upon him. The suspension of the right of habeas corpus below is relevant to the Guantanamo detainees as the suspensions involved either invasion or rebellion as stipulated under Article I of the US Constitution. The Congress has authorized the suspension of the right of habeas corpus about four times as highlighted. First, the Congress approved the request of the General of the Army (Winfield Scott) to suspend the right of habeas corpus during the Civil War after President Abraham Lincoln had approved it. The right of habeas corpus was suspended between Philadelphia and Washington as a response to the rioting of Southerners as the U.S army moved down the coast to quell and combat them. Next, President Ulysses Grant was granted the authority and power by the Congress via passing of the Ku Klux Klan Act to suspend the right of habeas corpus in South Carolina due to the rebellion during the Civil War. The third suspension of the right of habeas corpus was in 1902 during the Spanish-American War when President William McKinley was authorized to suspend the right of habeas corpus. Last but not least, President Franklin Roosevelt was authorized by the Congress to suspend the right of habeas corpus in the islands following the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor in 1941. The suspension of the right of habeas corpus above was conducted in the territories was under sovereignty of the US. The suspension of the right of habeas corpus is relevant to the Guantanamo detainees. The detention of a terror suspect held outside the US territory cannot preclude the jurisdiction of the rights of habeas corpus (Neuman, 2010). Despite the war on terror, the Guantanamo detainees have a right of habeas corpus because they are being held in a naval facility at Guantanamo bay that is not under the US, but on the Republic of Cuba's sovereign territory. Therefore, President Barrack Obama cannot be authorized by the Congress to suspend the right of habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees. The right of Habeas corpus is relevant to the war on terror because it fights for the right of terror suspects detained without trial.
The interpretation of the right of habeas corpus by the Supreme Court According to the majority judges during the Boumediene v. Bush case, the Guantanamo detainees had the right of habeas corpus to challenge their detention without trial in any court of law. The majority judges argued that the Military Commissions Act (MCA) by suspended the right of habeas corpus unconstitutionally without giving an adequate substitute. However, the dissenting judges argued that they should not be granted the right of habeas corpus as the Congress had catered for the rights of detained suspects to US citizens from the terror attack (Whittaker, 2013).
Conclusion
The constitution states that citizens are entitled to civil liberty, and a detained individual should not be detained without a legal reason. The habeas corpus evolved from both the English common law and American traditions. The detained non-American terror suspects have the right of habeas corpus.
References
Commons, J. R. (2006). Legal foundations of capitalism. Clark, N.J: Lawbook Exchange.
Kent, A. (2012). Habeas Corpus, Protection, and Extraterritorial Constitutional Rights. Iowa L. Rev., 34, 34.
Kettl, D. F. (2013). System under stress: Homeland security and American politics. London: Sage.
Mason, R. C. (2011). Military Justice: Courts-Martial, An Overview. NY: DIANE Publishing.
Neuman, G. L. (2010). The Habeas Corpus Suspension Clause After Boumediene v. Bush. Columbia Law Review, 537-578.
Wagstaff, R. H. (2014). Terror Detentions and the Rule of Law: US and UK Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wheeler, W. B., & Becker, S. D. (2011). Discovering the American past: Volume 1. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.
Whittaker, D. J. (2013). Terrorism: Understanding the global threat. London: Routledge.…...

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