The Constitution Needs Your Voice

phonepad.jpgThe Constitution needs you to make a few phone calls today. It would like to be whole again.  I figure it is the least we can do for a document that has guided our nation through the last two centuries and then some.  If you can spare some time today, I would really appreciate it if you would make a few calls.

Your calls could make the difference for full restoration of habeas corpus.  And your Founding Fathers will thank you for your efforts.

What am I talking about, you ask?   Matt Stoller of MyDD called me yesterday afternoon to say that he had heard the House Armed Services Committee was considering adding a provision to the Defense Department Authorization Bill being marked up in committee today and Thursday.  According to what Stoller was told, Chairman Ike Skelton has the votes to pass this provision through the committee and add it to the bill.

But there is a question whether they want and/or need to fight for this particular principle now — or whether it would be politically advantageous later.

My response to Stoller on this was "yeah, I can understand that, seeing how habeas corpus has been a revered piller of western legal philosophy and an ethical imperative as a civil right since the Magna Carta, how they'd want to just sit on that one for a while and think about it and all."  Well, not really.  What I said was, "how can I help push this through?"

And that's where you guys come in.

Matt has put together a list of all the phone numbers for Democratic leadership offices that need to be called, as well as numbers for the members of the House Armed Services Committee.  Please call and tell them that you want habeas corpus restored — completely and fully — and that we elected them to a majority in Congress to do the tough work, not to sit back and keep their powder dry.

Here are the numbers:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (202) 225-4965
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, (202) 225-4131

Armed Services Committee Democrats
Ike Skelton, Missouri, Chairman, 202-225-2876
John Spratt, South Carolina, 202-225-5501
Solomon P. Ortiz, Texas, (202) 225-7742
Gene Taylor, Mississippi, 202 225-5772
Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii, (202) 225-2726
Marty Meehan, Massachusetts, (202) 225-3411
Silvestre Reyes, Texas, (202) 225-4831
Vic Snyder, Arkansas, 202-225-2506
Adam Smith, Washington, (202) 225-8901
Loretta Sanchez, California, 202-225-5859
Mike McIntyre, North Carolina,  (202) 225-2731
Ellen O. Tauscher, California,  (202) 225-1880
Robert A. Brady, Pennsylvania, (202) 225-4731
Robert Andrews, New Jersey, 202-225-6501
Susan A. Davis, California, (202) 225-2040
Rick Larsen, Washington, (202) 225-2605
Jim Cooper, Tennessee, 202-225-4311
Jim Marshall, Georgia, (202) 225-6531
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam, (202) 225-1188
Mark Udall, Colorado, (202) 225-2161
Dan Boren, Oklahoma, (202) 225-2701
Brad Ellsworth, Indiana, (202) 225-4636
Nancy Boyda, Kansas, (202) 225-6601
Patrick Murphy, Pennsylvania, (202) 225-4276
Hank Johnson, Georgia, (202) 225-1605
Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire,(202) 225-5456
Joe Courtney, Connecticut, (202) 225-2076
David Loebsack, Iowa, 202.225.6576
Kirsten Gillibrand, New York, (202) 225-5614
Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania, (202) 225-2011
Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona, (202) 225-2542
Elijah Cummings, Maryland, (202) 225-4741
Kendrick Meek, Florida, 202-225-4506
Kathy Castor, Florida, (202)225-3376

UPDATE:  Katymine put together a list of toll free numbers for the Capitol switchboard, for those of you who want to use them.  Thanks, Katymine!  Here they are:

1 (800) 828 – 0498
1 (800) 459 – 1887
1 (800) 614 – 2803
1 (866) 340 – 9281
1 (866) 338 – 1015
1 (877) 851 – 6437

The full list of Armed Services Committee members can be found here

Here are a few reasons why habeas corpus matters and why restoring it for enemy combatants so that our bedrock legal principles are whole again are important — just in case you aren't quite sure what all of this is about or you missed the discussion when the initial vote for restrictions on habeas corpus occurred:

1.  From Why Habeas Review Matters:

Of all of the legal protections that we hold as American ideals and as examples to other nations as embodied in our Bill of Rights, the right of habeas corpus is the only civil liberty to be held so important by the Founders that it was included in the Constitution itself. This week, the United States Senate voted to restrict that right of petition for grievance.

A right to challenge being held by the government for improper reasons is at the heart of our democracy — where such right was established to secure our rights to liberty and freedom, and to stop imprisonment of opposition candidates for political reasons.

The right of habeas corpus is our firewall against the tyranny of the majority — it dates back to the Magna Carta, which bound the king to the rule of law. To threaten habeas corpus protections tears at the very fabric of rights in this nation."…

The Constitution is not a document of convenience. It is what we strive toward in this nation in terms of legal freedoms and rights, and to so blithely cast its principles aside for political expediency in the short term moment is shameful.

Further, our nation was founded on the principle that “all men are created equal.” Each time we take a step away from that, we cheapen that ideal, and we trample on the sacrifices made by so many at the birth of this nation who paid dear with their lives so that their children, and their children’s children, might live in a nation that held up the idea of liberty and freedom from tyranny as a beacon to the whole of the world.

To say that an enemy combatant is less deserving of the protections afforded our citizens because he or she is not from this nation is morally wrong, let alone legally questionable under our treaty obligations.

2. From Keith Olbermann, via C&L:

In fact, Countdown has obtained a partially redacted copy of a colonial "declaration" indicating that back then, "depriving us of Trial by Jury" was actually considered sufficient cause to start a War of Independence, based on the then-fashionable idea that "liberty" was an unalienable right.

Today, thanks to modern, post-9/11 thinking, those rights are now fully alienable.

The reality is, without habeas corpus, a lot of other rights lose their meaning.

Do watch the video clip here if you missed it the first time. One of the best special comments ever done.

3. For more information on habeas corpus and other issues surrounding the prior vote to remove the protection of judicial review from enemy combatants, see here, here, here, here, here, and here for starters.  And see here and here regarding a Judiciary Committee hearing about the matter that ought to have shamed members of Congress from rubber stamping the President's bidding (of course, this was back when Republicans controlled Congress and were operating as a de facto parliament, and so habeas just wasn't that important to them.)

I said the following at the time that this was passed, and I meant it:

Whatever it takes.  However long it takes.  The Democrats are going to regain control of Congress.  However much work is required, I will do it.  Whatever messaging needs to be done, I will write it.  Whatever it takes.  From this day forward, getting out the Democratic vote is the single most important thing on my agenda between now and November — but I’m going to need everyone’s help.  I have damn well had enough.

The Democrats do not get to sit back and keep their powder dry, either.  This is an issue of ethics and national character — and I expect them to stand up and fulfill their oath of office to serve and protect the Constitution of the United States and its laws.  Please take some time to day to make a few phone calls and let your voice be counted as supporting the rule of law.  Dial your phone and tell your elected representatives that you expect them to act with the moral courage and strength of character that the gravity of their office demands.  The Constitution needs your voice today.  Can I count on you to use it for the greater good?

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