Congress Fails to “Restore” Habeas Corpus This Morning

Democratic Senator Pat Leahy continues to claim all kinds of disaster that hasn’t actually happened regarding habeas corpus. This morning, his “Habeas Corpus Restoration Act,” cosponsored by faux-Republican Arlen Specter, was considered by the Senate.

The bill failed to reach cloture 56-43 (which means we’ll probably be seeing it again). Notable fence-jumpers on this are Republicans Specter, Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, George Smith, Olympia Snowe, and John Sununu. They voted for cloture. Independent Joe Lieberman, in a reversal from his vote on a similar bill last September, was the only non-Republican who voted against.

This isn’t encouraging. We are only three votes away from seeing key provisions of the Military Commissions Act undone.

Leahy makes what I will charitably call “errors” in his attempts to gather support for the bill. I hope to spend some time on posts about habeas corpus, but am a little busy right now preparing for an advocacy tournament. For now, see National Review Online’s excellent editorial on the topic.

If ever there has been cravenness hidden under bold rhetoric, it is the Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007, brainchild of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s senior members, Arlen Specter and Patrick Leahy. This effort to return to the federal district courts the cases of alien enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay might more aptly be called the “Avoiding Congressional Accountability Act” — or, as the Brookings Institution’s Benjamin Wittes has tartly suggested, the “Leave It to Justice Kennedy Act.”


~ by Gabriel Malor on September 19, 2007.

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