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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Friday, June 13, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Fundamental Civil Liberties, Says Bob Barr

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court made two critically important rulings. The first concluded that detainees in Guantanamo Bay could seek habeas corpus relief in federal court. The second stated that an American held by U.S. forces in Iraq was entitled to the protection of habeas corpus.

With these two decisions the Court “has reaffirmed one of the foundations of American liberties, the historic writ of habeas corpus—which requires the authorities to show cause for an arrest,” explains Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president. The justices did not order anyone released, instead leaving that decision up to the trial judge after a full and fair hearing.

Barr, who since leaving Congress in January 2003 has become one of the nation’s leading advocates for protecting privacy and civil liberties, explained that the decision “is as much a victory for the American people as it is for any particular litigant.” The right to habeas corpus is enshrined in the Constitution: “by allowing a defendant to seek relief in court, habeas corpus is one of the most important legal limits on government,” explains Barr.

However, he observes, these decisions, though welcome, “are only the start in a long process of reasserting our liberties.” Congress must not, for instance, cave in and allow warrant-less surveillance of American citizens under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). To this end, Barr joined with the ACLU, Liberty Coalition, American Library Association, Citizen Outreach, and other organizations to oppose a proposal by Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO) to limit judicial review and gut other proposed safeguards against government abuse.

The threat is bipartisan, warns Barr. “The Bush administration has spent seven years attempting to give the executive branch unprecedented powers without any accountability, while the Democrats have refused to use their authority to hold the president and his appointees accountable,” Barr explains. And after pretending to be a Republican maverick, “Sen. McCain’s staff says he would spy on Americans without warrants just as President Bush has done.”

“We must give the U.S. government the tools necessary to defeat terrorism, but in doing so we must not sacrifice the freedoms that make America great,” says Barr. Today’s Supreme Court rulings are a good beginning. Now, he emphasizes, “It is up to the rest of us to finish the job of restoring America’s constitutional liberties.”

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