The Great Writ of Liberty
POL201: American National Government
November 24, 2013
The Great Writ of Liberty
Can you imagine what the United States would be like without the Writ of Habeas Corpus? Well, the “Bill of Rights” which is the first ten amendments in the United States Constitution would be stripped away and our nation would crumble. The Bill of Rights protects the American people and their civil liberties against the government who may infringe upon the rights of the people. In other words, the Bill of Rights limits the government’s power, and this is why our “Founding Fathers believed Habeas Corpus was so essential in preserving our liberty, justice, and democracy ...view middle of the document...
This includes knowing what the charges are against you, being informed of your rights and having legal representation; if unable to afford an attorney one will be provided by the state. Today, the writ is mostly used by incarcerated individuals in state prisons who feel their rights were violated by the state, which means they can make a plea and apply for Habeas Corpus. This great writ of liberty assists in protecting our individual liberties and has been around long before the Constitution was written.
The history of Habeas Corpus “is known to be lost in antiquity” (Writ of Habeas Corpus, n.d.). Meaning that it is hard to determine exactly when it was created, but there is clear evidence that it has been around for nearly eight hundred years and possibly longer. It started in England around 1215, and even back then Habeas Corpus prevented the king from locking up the people in dungeons and throwing away the key. Habeas Corpus was “derived from English common law, which first appeared in the Magna Carta of 1215, and it is considered the oldest human right in the history of English-speaking civilization” (Habeas Corpus, 2013, p. 1). In the 1600s the English courts began to strengthen and actively considered petitions for Habeas Corps. As far as the American history, it has now been over two hundred years since our founding fathers stepped foot on American soil and brought with them and adopted the writ of Habeas Corpus. Since then, it has been known as a guaranteed birthright to all American citizens, and is perhaps the most famous writ in the law; having for many centuries been employed to remove illegal restraint upon personal liberty, no matter by what power imposed.
Throughout its history, Habeas Corpus has been suspended twice since the United States Constitution was written. According to Article I, Section IX of the constitution, “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” (Writ of Habeas Corpus, 2006). While Habeas Corpus has been maintained as a fundamental right of the imprisoned, this protection has been manipulated within our history, making habeas corpus sometimes a casualty of our desire for security during times of crisis.
The first President to suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus was President Abraham Lincoln. The suspension was during the Civil War at a time when rebellion and invasion was prevalent, and due to the large number of people rebelling. Lincoln knew that the writ of Habeas Corpus would overwhelm the judicial system for one, and even though disenfranchising the rebellious people, it was necessary, since the rebellion was against the U. S. Government and its Constitution.
The second time the writ was suspended was by President Bush in 2001, after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, thus resulting in the death of nearly three thousand Americans....