Well ... it won't quite restore the Constitution to even where it was before this administration started attacking it with the connivance of the craven cowards of the previous Congress. But it would be a start, of sorts.
A group of Senate Democrats introduced legislation yesterday that would restore habeas corpus rights to all detainees in U.S. custody and would narrowly define what it means to be an "enemy combatant" against the United States, a measure designed to challenge laws ushered in by the Republican-controlled Congress last year.
The bill, titled the "Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007," strikes at the core of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 by giving detainees access to U.S. courts. It was introduced by Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.), a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
The bill would also prevent the executive branch from making blanket determinations about who is an enemy combatant and would restrict the president's authority to interpret when certain human rights standards apply to detainees. The legislation would limit the label "enemy combatant" to a person "who directly participates in hostilities in a zone of active combat against the United States" or who took part in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Should such language become law, it could change the status of numerous detainees who were picked up in U.S. counterterrorism efforts.
The bill would also restore to the detainees numerous rights they lost under the Military Commissions Act, including the right, under a habeas corpus petition, to challenge their detention in federal court....
Of course, this law has pretty much zero chance of coming into effect, unless it acquires a really stunning number of senators and representatives in support. It will certainly be vetoed by the president, whose reasons ought to be wonderfully baroque, entertaining and infuriating. At the least, he's not going to permit this sort of encroachment on the power he's seized, both with and without the consent of Congress. And it's not likely to have supermajorities in both houses, so they'll be unable to override the veto.
But still. At least Congress is slightly less cowardly than they were before. We now know they're entirely capable of kicking a man when he's down.Posted by iain at February 14, 2007 11:05 AM