US Senate defeats measure restoring habeas corpus to detainees

[JURIST] A measure in the US Senate [official website] that would have overturned the current ban on habeas corpus petitions [SA 2022 materials] for detainees at Guantanamo Bay was unable to achieve the 60 votes needed [roll call] to cut off debate Wednesday. Sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the bill would have amended the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 [HR 1585 summary] to rescind portions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [PDF text, JURIST news archive] that prevent detainees from challenging their detentions in court. Following the vote, Leahy said that the Senate should not give up on the bill [press release], likening the suspension of habeas corpus to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and calling it "an action driven by fear" and a "stain on America’s reputation in the world."

Prior to Wednesday's 56-43 defeat, Specter characterized habeas corpus as a fundamental right [press release], tracing its history to the Magna Carta in 1215. Leahy said that the Senate should not forget that values such as habeas corpus are the foundation of what makes America strong [press release]. Specter and Leahy are also co-sponsors of another bill [S 185 summary], currently on the legislative calender, that also seeks to restore habeas corpus for detainees. AP has more.

 

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