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Report: Trump’s Justice Department Wants To Suspend Habeas Corpus

President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice has sent documents to Congress requesting a suspension of the rules for habeas corpus, the right of a person who is arrested and to appear in an expeditious way before a judge to be formally charged.

The United States Department of Justice/Wikimedia

Politico reported on the developments in a report on Saturday, detailing how they had examined documents for the request.

The writ of habeas corpus is sometimes called “the Great Writ” due to its importance. Without its recognition, a government entity can arrest individuals indefinitely, without charges of any kind or the chance to argue for their defense/release before a judge or a court of law.

The Trump administration made the request due to the current crisis the nation is facing concerning the spread of coronavirus, Politico reported.

The suspension of the rule is unlikely to be approved by Congress, due to the House of Representatives being under the control of Democratic lawmakers. However, it does highlight how the Trump administration is seeking broad authority and new powers under the current national crisis.

A presidential administration need not seek Congress’ approval, either, for suspension of the Great Writ, although according to the Constitution, the only means by which it can be ignored is “in cases of rebellion or invasion” where “the public safety may require it.”

So revered is the writ of habeas corpus that even President Abraham Lincoln was denied the ability of revoking it during the Civil War, although he continued to do so despite a Supreme Court order.

The moves by the DOJ have unnerved civil liberty experts.

Suspending the writ would mean “you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over,” Norman Reimer, executive director for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told Politico. “That is something that should not happen in a democracy.”

Featured image credit: The United States Department of Justice/Wikimedia



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