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Restoring Habeas Corpus: Protecting American Values and the Great Writ

Publication Date: 
May 22, 2007
United States Senate Committee On The Judiciary

On May 22, 2007, Professor Mariano-Florentino Cuellar gave a testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on "Restoring Habeas Corpus: Protecting American Values And The Great Writ."

The following is an excerpt from his testimony:

Just as constitutional rights can be placed at risk by problematic statutes or arbitrary executive actions, so too can such rights be appropriately safeguarded through statutory mechanisms that ensure a proper balance between the need for vigorous executive action and accountability. The intimate connection between constitutional protection and external checks on executive authority helps explain the resilience of statutory habeas provisions. The writ of habeas corpus has acted as a check on executive power in a surprising array of historical circumstances, involving citizens as well as aliens, enemy combatants on U.S. territory, and enemy combatants outside the U.S. but within its functional jurisdiction.7 In short, the statutory history of habeas corpus gives effect to both constitutional protections as well as a broader concern with the need for accountability.