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A written order issued to ascertain if someone is imprisoned lawfully

Habeas corpus (Medieval Latin meaning literally "that you have the body") is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court and request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.


Constitution of the United States
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.


Beginning of the end of America: Olbermann addresses the Military Commissions Act in a special comment, by Keith Olbermann, 18 Oct 2006
Transcript and video of the Countdown with Keith Olbermann show segment criticizing Bush's signing of the Military Commissions Act
But even within this history we have not before codified the poisoning of habeas corpus, that wellspring of protection from which all essential liberties flow. ... And if you somehow think habeas corpus has not been suspended for American citizens but only for everybody else, ask yourself this: If you are pulled off the street tomorrow, and they call you an alien or an undocumented immigrant or an 'unlawful enemy combatant'—exactly how are you going to convince them to give you a court hearing to prove you are not? Do you think this attorney general is going to help you?
The Bill of Rights: Due Process of Law, by Jacob G. Hornberger, Freedom Daily, Nov 2004
Describes the origins of due process in the Magna Carta, the basic requirements of "notice" and "hearing", other guarantees (e.g., assistance of counsel, trial by jury of peers), habeas corpus and comments on the current state of affairs
Our English and American ancestors understood that the only effective way to secure the release of people who were wrongfully detained was through a legal process known as habeas corpus, which stretches back to 1679, when Parliament enacted the Habeas Corpus Act and which the Framers later enshrined in ... Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution ... Habeas corpus is a process that entitles a person held in custody to file a petition in court formally requesting the court to summon the accused and his custodian to court where the custodian will be required to show the reason he is detaining the petitioner.
Civil Liberty and the State: The Writ of Habeas Corpus, by Richard Ebeling, Freedom Daily, Apr 2002
Highlights of English and American history on the writ of habeas corpus, in particular the 17th century conflict between Charles I and Edward Coke
Men have risked their lives and fortunes to oppose arrogant political power. When they have done so, they have served as examples and set legal precedents that then secured areas of protected liberty for their contemporaries and for future generations. A shining example of this is the writ of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus means, literally, "You are to have the body," i.e., "You are to bring the body, the prisoner himself, before us," so that a court of law may be informed as to why a man has been imprisoned. If there is no legal reason for the man to be held in prison, he is to be set free.
The Critical Dilemma Facing Pro-War Libertarians, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 14 Feb 2007
Discusses the contradictions faced by U.S. libertarians and conservatives who endorsed or encouraged imperial and interventionist foreign policies following the attacks of 11 Sep 2001
Recall the movie Braveheart, which depicted the period in English history when the English king and his minions possessed and exercised the right to rape a newlywed bride on her wedding night ... In fact, even the right of habeas corpus would be ineffective in such a case because the judge at the habeas corpus hearing would hold that under the law the government has the "right" to rape the bride and, therefore, he would deny habeas corpus relief. Thus, the core problem would remain—that government officials would possess the power to rape.
Decimating the Constitution with Military Tribunals, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 27 Sep 2006
Discusses what would become the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA); note: in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled section 7 of the MCA unconstitutional, which led to the MCA of 2009
To limit the abuse of power in criminal prosecutions and to ensure that innocent people were not convicted and punished, our American ancestors deliberately set up a series of legal obstacles and roadblocks within the federal criminal-justice system, many of which stretched back centuries into English jurisprudence. If a person were being held without charges, he could file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which would force the person detaining him to appear before an independent federal judge to show cause why the person shouldn't be released.
The Great Writ Then and Now, by Wendy McElroy, The Freeman, Nov 2009
Chronicles the history of the writ of habeas corpus from the Magna Carta through the American Civil War to Guantanamo Bay and "enemy combatants"
Habeas corpus is a rarely invoked legal writ, or document, widely considered to be the cornerstone of individual liberty. ... The writ is a civil action with the force of a court order, which requires a custodian, usually the government, to produce a detainee. The purpose is not to determine the detainee's innocence or guilt but to evaluate whether the detention itself is lawful; that is, does it satisfy the standard set by the law of the land? ... If the imprisonment is invalid, the person must be released. In short, the government cannot imprison you without just cause and due process.
Habeas Corpus: The Lynchpin of Freedom, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 11 Oct 2006
Commenting on the Military Commissions Act of 2006, discusses a hypothetical U.S. war scenario where the president extends MCA cancellation of habeas corpus to U.S. citizens criticizing the war and thus "aiding the enemy"
While it might be tempting to conclude that the writ of habeas corpus is some minor legal procedural device that the president and the Congress have now canceled, nothing could be further from the truth. The writ of habeas corpus is actually the lynchpin of a free society. Take away this great writ and all other rights ... become meaningless ... The Framers ...specifically provided for its protection ... As Alexander Hamilton put it, the writ of habeas corpus, along with the prohibition against ex post facto laws, "are perhaps greater securities to liberty" than any others in the Constitution.
Related Topics: Freedom of Speech, War
Lincoln's Presidential Warrant to Arrest Chief Justice Roger B. Taney: 'A Great Crime' or a Fabrication?, by Charles Adams, 5 Jan 2004
Examines the evidence that Lincoln signed a warrant to arrest Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney
All the Merryman decision did, was to require the government to follow the ancient rule of English liberty – which was set forth in the Constitution – that only the Congress could take away the right of habeas corpus. That would have required Lincoln to call Congress into session, and ask Congress to suspend the right to habeas corpus. How was that so bad? ... When Lincoln was ignoring the Supreme Court's ruling, Taney sent copies of his opinion to other judges, urging them to issue writs of habeas corpus, and many of them did, even enforcing writs against military arrests of civilians.
Related Topic: Abraham Lincoln
The Pentagon's Power to Arrest, Torture, and Execute Americans, by Jacob G. Hornberger, 28 Feb 2007
Discusses the power to "arrest, torture, and execute" anyone (Amrican citizen or not) claimed to be an "enemy combatant" by the U.S. president and the military, and the shenanigans in the José Padilla case
Habeas corpus is a legal remedy that stretches back centuries into American and English jurisprudence. Its purpose is to negate the power of government officials to arbitrarily incarcerate and punish people without just cause. Placing ultimate power in the hands of an independent judge, the writ commands the custodian to produce the prisoner and show cause for holding him. If the judge finds that the prisoner is being held without cause, he has the power to order his release. Under the law, the custodian — whether he's a king, a president, or a military official — must comply with the judge's order.
The "Stable Bulwark of Our Liberties", by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Jun 2008
Reviews the Supreme Court majority opinion in the decision of the Boumediene v. Bush case, holding that Guantanamo Bay detainees can use the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
[The Supreme Court] ruled that neither the fact that the petitioners were foreign nationals nor the fact that Guantanamo is not formally U.S. territory mattered to the question. Habeas corpus — the Great Writ — was at the core of the Founders' efforts to deprive government of arbitrary power, the majority said ... What is heartening about the decision is the majority's emphasis on how important habeas corpus is to the never-ending effort to keep government on a short leash ... Without habeas corpus, the executive branch acquires the powers of the judiciary in conflict with the intent of the framers.
Stop Them!, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Feb 2007
Commenty supporting a New York Times editorial advocating passage of bills to repeal the habeas corpus provisions in the Military Commissions Act and to outlaw the use of evidence obtained through torture
[Will] the Democrats who now control Congress do anything to constrain the wild elephant at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue? We've heard the talk, Dems. Now let's do something. There's plenty of opportunity. They could start by passing a bill introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter to repeal the habeas-corpus section of the Military Commissions Act, the infamous law that lets the president seize noncitizens anywhere in the world, proclaim them suspected terrorists, hold them indefinitely without access to the courts, and even send them off to foreign torture chambers.

Cartoons and Comic Strips

I _Told_ You I Was the Decider, by Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Oct 2006
Related Topic: George W. Bush
OK, Here's Our Next Move ..., by Pat Oliphant, 30 Oct 2006

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Habeas corpus" as of 17 Oct 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.