Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | Podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate

 Home Up Next


Vocapedia > USA > Law, Justice > Habeas Corpus



habeas corpus


Habeas corpus

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.


Habeas corpus

has been suspended a number of times,

most notably by Abraham Lincoln

during the early days of the Civil War.


Habeas corpus

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.























Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia


state laws > 1994 > California

voters pass the “three strikes” law



U.S. Constitution,

U.S. Supreme Court, State Supreme Courts



justice, law > death penalty > USA



prison, jail > USA



justice > courtroom artists / miscarriage of justice > UK / USA






Related > Anglonautes > Documents


Historical documents > USA




home Up