Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus, And The War On Terror

1392 words - 6 pages

Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus, and the War on Terror
U.S. Presidents have been known to assert their presidential prerogative in times of crisis. Their decisions, sometimes haste and irrational, were rarely challenged by the Supreme Court because of extenuating circumstances. Over the years, our nation’s leaders made the tough decisions that raised eyebrows in the Supreme Court and caused confusion among the American public. The latest battle that has our nation in an uproar is terrorism. Since the attack on September 11, 2001, the American government has exercised its powers to detain suspected terrorist or illegal combatants for the sake of national security. Such actions violate the ...view middle of the document...

It is not as simple as it sounds, prisoners captured in the war on terror were labeled as illegal combatants and continuously plotted to cause harm to the civil liberties of Americans.
Only a few presidents felt it was necessary to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to protect the citizens. President Lincoln exercised his power during the Civil War when he placed Confederate territories that fell to the Union under military rule and ordered the arrest of people who were believed to be causing insurrection (Levin-Waldman, 2012). The Supreme Court eventually rules against him but he ignored their opinion. President Grant engaged in his own “war on terror” in South Carolina against the Ku Klux Klan. His actions ensured that clansmen were arrested and imprisoned would not be sprung from captivity by sympathetic legislators (Satanovsky, 2012). President G.W. Bush challenged the writ of habeas corpus with legislature to detain prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Each case drew tremendous backlash and concern from the public and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court felt that such act was unconstitutional and violated the rights of the prisoners and citizens. Legislature were established to fight habeas corpus, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and Military Commissions Act both set limits on habeas corpus in favor of the Executive Branch.
Habeas Corpus is relevant to contemporary U.S. situations today more than ever. Since 9/11, the United States’ ultimate goal is to cease terrorist attacks on U.S. soil and around the world. That meant apprehending U.S citizens who happened to be of Middle Eastern decent under suspicion of Taliban involvement. Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) which allowed the Bush administration to use all necessary and appropriate force against organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks (Howe, n.d.). Habeas corpus applied only to those citizens of the U.S., but under military tribunal. The prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay sparked a battle between the Pentagon and its lawyers over the struggle of security and civil liberty. President Bush, without notice to Congress, signed a military order that gave the Pentagon power to try, sentence, and even execute anyone the president has identified as an illegal combatant.
Several Supreme Courts cases have presided over the ambiguity of habeas corpus. The biggest debate in these proceeding is the action of the president justified or violation of the Constitution. The Court examine each case, give their opinions based of facts, and vote on the decision. In the case Boumediene v. Bush, the Court relied on the Constitution in deciding that the detainees at GITMO had the right to seek habeas corpus review. Justice Kennedy based his opinion off the fact even though the petitioner is an alien, he has the privilege of habeas corpus. Justice Kennedy’s opinion was also consistent with the...

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