NEW YORK - November 15 - The Senate's treatment of the habeas issue is a scandal. The Great Writ of Habeas Corpus is as old as the Magna Carta. It is too fundamental, too important, too precious, to be rewritten on the back of an envelope, then passed as a floor amendment to an authorization bill on four days' notice, and then hastily further revised.
There have been no hearings on this issue. There are no committee reports reflecting thoughtful consideration of the merits of these amendments or their implications. No one even saw the Graham amendment until the day it was put to a vote. Since then, there has been a tornado of proposed changes and "compromise" positions.
In the meantime, these rushed efforts to rip up the Constitution have been uniformly and rightly condemned nationwide by judges, former military officers, and the great newspapers of the land.
Many are alarmed by these measures on the merits. Many others are alarmed by the precedent they could set for other modifications of habeas. Still others are alarmed by the impetus these modifications could give to other jurisdiction-stripping measures.
The Senate has had no opportunity to consider these views. Graham-Levin violates the Constitution's guarantee against suspension of the Great Writ. It also violates equal protection, due process, and other fundamental rights, and is a forbidden Bill of Attainder.
To legislate this way is disgraceful. It is also completely unnecessary. This is not an emergency situation. The Graham-Levin amendment should be stripped out in conference. The genuine deliberation required by the gravity of the issue can then begin.