Aren’t my coworkers awesome?

January 29, 2008

If you’re an Obama fan, you’ll surely think so after reading this open letter that several of them signed. As you can guess by the title of the blog featuring it – “Habeas lawyers for Obama” – the signatories are habeas counsel to Guantanamo detainees and are throwing their support behind the Illinois Senator, whose efforts to restore the rights of habeas corpus and limitations on executive overreach are unmatched by any others among the current crop of presidential contenders. More information regarding the merits of our claims, as well as my own involvement with the case, can be found in this past post.

The letter’s main text reads:


January 28, 2008

Dear Friends:

We are at a critical point in the Presidential campaign, and as lawyers who have been deeply involved in the Guantanamo litigation to preserve the important right to habeas corpus, we are writing to urge you to support Senator Obama.

The Administration’s Guantanamo policies have undercut our values at home and stained our reputation around the world. All of us are lawyers who have worked on the Guantanamo habeas corpus litigation for many years, some of us since early 2002, and we were all deeply involved in opposing the Administration’s attempt to overturn the Supreme Court’s Rasul decision by stripping the courts of jurisdiction to hear the Guantanamo cases. We have talked with Senator Obama about why the Guantanamo litigation is so significant, and we have worked closely with Senator Obama in the fight to preserve habeas corpus.

Some politicians are all talk and no action. But we know from first-hand experience that Senator Obama has demonstrated extraordinary leadership on this critical and controversial issue. When others stood back, Senator Obama helped lead the fight in the Senate against the Administration’s efforts in the Fall of 2006 to strip the courts of jurisdiction, and when we were walking the halls of the Capitol trying to win over enough Senators to beat back the Administration’s bill, Senator Obama made his key staffers and even his offices available to help us. Senator Obama worked with us to count the votes, and he personally lobbied colleagues who worried about the political ramifications of voting to preserve habeas corpus for the men held at Guantanamo. He has understood that our strength as a nation stems from our commitment to our core values, and that we are strong enough to protect both our security and those values. Senator Obama demonstrated real leadership then and since, continuing to raise Guantanamo and habeas corpus in his speeches and in the debates.

The writ of habeas corpus dates to the Magna Carta, and was enshrined by the Founders in our Constitution. The Administration’s attack on habeas corpus rights is dangerous and wrong. America needs a President who will not triangulate this issue. We need a President who will restore the rule of law, demonstrate our commitment to human rights, and repair our reputation in the world community. Based on our work with him, we are convinced that Senator Obama can do this because he truly feels these issues “in his bones.”

We urge you to support Senator Obama.

We encourage you to forward this message to anyone who might be interested.

Signed, eighty-eight hardcore advocates for justice, the Constutition, and the true principles of a free society (I’m paraphrasing). It’s worth mentioning that these advocates are not smalltime. They consist mostly of law professors and litigators from the upper echelons of legal practice. And they chose their words carefully: language that we need a president who won’t “triangulate this issue” cannot be anything but a direct swipe at Hillary, and one as hard-hitting as it is well-deserved. Hillary can be counted on to do whatever is in Hillary’s best interests at a given moment. This issue, which cuts at the core of our rights and values, is too important to risk being abandoned for politics’ sake. Obama’s the real deal. And this is proof that at least eighty-eight accomplished, principled lawyers agree.

These lawyers were the reason I took this job, and they’re a source of continuing inspiration as I prepare to become a lawyer myself.


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