Friday, June 13, 2008

Habeas Corpus is not a right, it’s a responsibility

The Supreme Court, by a slim margin, has once again confirmed the responsibility of the U.S. government to assure that all people under our control are treated humanely and responsibly. Part of that responsibility is to assure to the best of our ability that those who are in our custody are there for a legitimate reason.
That is what the writ of habeas corpus is all about. It is not a “right” bestowed on American citizens at birth. It is a responsibility that we have assumed as a nation. It does not benefit our society to incarcerate people without good reason. It is morally and ethically wrong and it places an undue financial burden on taxpayers. So why shouldn’t we do everything within reason to assure that we are not incarcerating innocent people? The purpose of Habeas Corpus is to keep innocent people from being detained, not to let guilty people go free.
A lot of the outrage on the right centers around the perception that we are granting “terrorists” a special privilege that is usually reserved just for American citizens. But the right to not be incarcerated when you are innocent should not be just for American citizens, it should be for everyone. And thus it is our responsiblity to make sure that is so with the people under our authority.

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