In his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson said, “Freedom of the person under the protection of the habeas corpus I deem [one of the] essential principles of our government.” Unlawfully detaining an individual violates the basic tenets of liberty and individual freedom that the American legal system is founded on. The right to habeas corpus serves as an important safeguard for liberty and freedom by ensuring that individuals are not imprisoned in violation of their rights under the law. This entry first provides background information on habeas corpus. Then it discusses the application of writs of habeas corpus and recent policy and national security implications of habeas corpus challenges.


Literally translated, habeas corpus means “you have the body” in Latin. The foundations ...

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