is the legal concept
that a prisoner has a right
to challenge the basis of confinement
-- to demand that the government produce
a valid reason for detention.
The concept was developed
in England during the late Middle Ages,
and takes its name
from the first two Latin words
of the writ filed for a prisoner's release
(a phrase translated variously
as "You have the body''
and "Produce the body.'')
Habeas corpus formed a part
of the American legal system
from colonial times,
and it was the only specific right
incorporated in the Constitution.
Article 1, Section 9 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."
The suspension of habeas corpus
allows an agency to hold a person without a charge.
has been suspended a number of times,
most notably by Abraham Lincoln
during the early days of the Civil War.
became a subject of renewed controversy
after the Sept. 11th attacks.
When the Bush administration
created a system of military tribunals
for dealing with terrorism subjects in 2002,
it asserted that "illegal non-combatants''
fell outside of the Geneva Conventions
and were not entitled to habeas corpus.
That view was rejected
by the Supreme Court in 2006.
then controlled by Republicans,
responded by passing
the Military Commissions Act of 2006,
which stripped the federal courts of jurisdiction
to hear habeas corpus petitions
filed by detainees challenging the bases
for their confinement.
such challenges were to be governed
by the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act,
which allowed detainees to appeal decisions
of the military tribunals to the District of Columbia Circuit,
but only under circumscribed procedures,
including a presumption that the evidence
before the military tribunal
was accurate and complete.
In a 5 to 4 decision
issued on June 12, 2008,
the Supreme Court ruled
that approach to be unconstitutional,
declaring that foreign terrorism suspects held
at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba
have the right to challenge their detention there
in federal courts.
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