The Alberto Gonzales School of Constitutional Interpretation

The attorney general explains how the Constitution doesn't actually grant the right of habeas corpus.

By Tim Grieve
Published January 19, 2007 4:55PM (EST)

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that "there is no express grant" of habeas corpus in the Constitution, just a "prohibition against taking it away."

He's right about that, technically speaking: The Constitution says that the "writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."

That said, we're still wondering where the nation's top lawyer is going with his rather novel legal theory. By Gonzales' logic, after all, the Constitution doesn't offer an "express grant" of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms or the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures; it simply says that the government shall not take those rights away.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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