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News Link • Habeas Corpus

The Habeas Corpus Myth

•, By Anthony Gregory
  We know that habeas prohibits jailing people without cause, and that it remained healthy throughout U.S. history, except during wartime, until George W. Bush’s 2006 Military Commissions Act. And we also know that in 2008, the Supreme Court guaranteed basic due process rights for Guantánamo’s inmates.

The trouble is that none of these things are true. Five years ago, I believed the conventional civil libertarian narrative and began writing a paper to criticize the Bush administration and its nearly unprecedented violation of this sacred right.

My research revealed that much of what I knew about habeas corpus was wrong, and that many well-intentioned people had a romanticized view of the great writ. I published my findings in my Independent Institute book The Power of Habeas Corpus in America: From the King’s Prerogative to the War on Terror, and I found that as with other idealized state functions, habeas corpus has an uneven history.

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