A written order issued to ascertain if someone is imprisoned lawfaully

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?"
UpdCivil Liberty and the State: The Writ of Habeas Corpus, by Richard Ebeling, Future of Freedom, 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."
Habeas Corpus: The Lynchpin of Freedom, by Jacob Hornberger, 11 Oct 2006
"The writ of habeas corpus is actually the lynchpin of a free society. Take away this great writ and all other rights — such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, gun ownership, due process, trial by jury, and protection from unreasonable searches and seizures and cruel and unusual punishments — become meaningless."
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
Stop Them!, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Feb 2007
Commentary supporting a New York Times editorial advocating repeal of habeas corpus provisions in the Military Commissions Act and outlawing use of evidence obtained through torture
"... the Democrats who now control Congress ... 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."
The Critical Dilemma Facing Pro-War Libertarians, by Jacob Hornberger, 14 Feb 2007
Discusses the contradictions faced by U.S. libertarians and conservatives who endorsed or encouraged imperial and interventionist foreign policies
"In fact, even the right of habeas corpus would be ineffective in such a case [the supposed right of jus primae noctis] 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."
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."
The Pentagon's Power to Arrest, Torture, and Execute Americans, by Jacob Hornberger, 28 Feb 2007
"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."
The "Stable Bulwark of Our Liberties", by Sheldon Richman, 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
"It 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."
Related Topic: William Blackstone

Cartoons and Comic Strips

I _Told_ You I Was the Decider, by Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Oct 2006
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.