Friday, January 19, 2007

Gonzales pooh-poohs habeus corpus


In yesterday's Senate hearing, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to argue that there is no constitutional right to habeus corpus -- that is, the right to challenge the legality of your detention.

The link is ThinkProgress; sorry about that. But they've got video and a transcript.

GONZALES: I will go back and look at it. The fact that the Constitution — again, there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme —

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.” It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by —

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.

Anyone agree with Gonzales? I mean, he's right about the wording -- it doesn't positively grant the right, it says the right cannot be taken away. But he seems to read a positively lunatic significance into that distinction.

I wonder what he makes of the First Amendment, which reads "Congress shall make no law.... abridging the freedom of speech." Nope, no positive grant of the right to free speech either.

No wonder this guy was able to justify torture.

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