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Habeas Corpus, Civil Liberties, and the War on Terror: a Walk Through History

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Submitted By kebrod1227
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A Writ of Habeas Corpus as outlined in our book is that of a legal act that calls for an individual under seizure to be brought in front of a court of law for an inquiry to essentially decide if they are guilty or not of the suspected crime (Levin-Waldman, 2012). The Writ of Habeas Corpus explicitly brings up the right to contest one's arrest and imprisonment. It is also a way for the government to force an individual to come before the courts. By permitting an independent judge to analysis the legitimacy of the individual’s confinement and instruct that the detainee be freed if the circumstances are unlawful, habeas corpus functions as a safeguard against unlawful seizure, arrest, and torture. While habeas corpus has been upheld as a fundamental right of the imprisoned, this safeguard has been obstructed throughout our history, making the habeas corpus right, at times, a subject of our desire for refuge during times of emergency. The beginnings of habeas corpus can be traced to the year 1215 in the 39th article of the Magna Carta signed by King John, which says that: "No man may be restrained or confined except by the lawful declaration of his peers or by the decree of the land" (Rohde, S 2010). At first, habeas corpus was a resource used to summons an individual before the courts. However, by the turn of the 14th Century, higher courts were using the Writ of Habeas Corpus as a way of examining the surroundings of an individual’s confinement by the lower courts (Farrell, B 2009). By the end of the 16th Century, the courts were using habeas corpus as a way to make inquiries into the imprisonments of individuals ordered by the King’s Council. (Duker, W 1980) During the course of the 17th Century, Parliament looked for a way to reinforce habeas corpus and bring the King’s actions inside of its parameter, resulting in the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 (British History,...

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