[JURIST] US Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) [official website] on Tuesday introduced in the Senate the Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007 [S 576 summary], legislation that would restore habeas corpus rights to all US-held detainees, ban the use of evidence gained by torture or coercion, and redefine "enemy combatant" in a more narrow light. If the bill is passed, it would change the detention status of many persons currently held by the US on suspicion of terrorist activities. In remarks [press release; recorded video] Tuesday, Dodd said:
It's clear the people who perpetrated these horrendous crimes against our country and our people have no moral compass and deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But in taking away their legal rights, the rights first codified in our country's Constitution, we're taking away our own moral compass, as well.The proposed legislation would largely alter the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA) [JURIST news archive], which stripped the US courts of jurisdiction to consider writs of habeas corpus filed by detainees classified as enemy combatants.
Similar bills were introduced by Dodd [press release; JURIST report] and Senate Judiciary Committee leaders [JURIST report] late last year before the end of the last Congressional session. Since its passage, the MCA has come under fire not only from Democrats but also from members of the judiciary, human rights groups and foreign countries. Lawyers representing detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] petitioned [JURIST report] the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in early November to declare its suspension of habeas rights unconstitutional. The Washington Post has more.