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Habeas Corpus: The Guantanamo Cases

About the Film

After the attacks of 9/11, as America waged two wars abroad, all three branches of the federal government – the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary – fought over the balance between national security and civil liberties. The fight escalated over four Supreme Court cases over four years, which became known as “The Guantanamo Cases.”  The Court and the President – and even Congress – fought over the balance between national security and civil liberties during the War on Terror. The Court tried to balance the President’s duty to protect the nation with Constitutional protections of fundamental rights. And at the heart of it all, was the right of habeas corpus.

Habeas-judge-and-prisonerIf you’re in prison, you have the right to go to court and force the government to explain why it’s holding you.  That right is called “habeas corpus,” which is Latin for “have the body.” It means that the government cannot hold you without giving you the right to appear in a court of law and challenge your detention. So, the executive can lock you up, but you have the right of habeas corpus, so you can challenge the executive in court.  And Congress has the power to suspend habeas corpus in Article 1 Section 9 of the Constitution, but only in cases of “Rebellion or Invasion” – that’s called the Suspension Clause.  And it’s hard to use, because habeas corpus is such an important right.

Because habeas corpus can only be suspended during times of rebellion or invasion, it has been at the center of more than one wartime crisis, from the Civil War and World War II through the War on Terror. In the four Guantanamo Cases, the alleged enemy combatants challenged their detention by the government. In each case, the Court preserved the separation of powers, overturning laws passed by Congress and manHabeas-Prisoners-textdates proposed by the President aimed at denying the prisoners their right to habeas corpus. The Supreme Court explained that it is a constitutional right that extends even to enemy combatants who are not U.S. citizens and are held outside of the United States in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. As Justice Anthony Kennedy explained in the fourth and final case, Boumediene v. Bush “[t]he laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times.”  That includes the War on Terror.

Ultimately, justice came slowly for the detainees in these cases, but their cases were heard because of the right of habeas corpus.

 

 

Further Reading

Read the Supreme Court’s landmark habeas corpus decision, Boumediene v. Bush

Read President Lincoln’s controversial proclamation on the suspension of habeas corpus

Visit the 9/11 Museum website to learn more about the attacks on September 11, 2001

Learn more about the United States naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

 

Credits

Producers, Robe Imbriano and Maria Matasar-Padilla
Writer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Associate Producer, Amanda Scott
Field Producer, Carla Denly
Graphic Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Photography, Edward Marritz, Sam Painter and Brett Wiley
Production Associate, Claudia Lopez
Senior Production Associate, Bonnie Birmingham
Sound, Mark Mandler, Roger Phenix, Brian Buckley and David Mitlyng
Music, Gavin Allen, Ben Decter, Audio Network
Production Accountants, Mara Connolly and Andrea Yellen
Assistant to the Executive Producer, Jessie Fairbanks and Rachael Benjamin
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

A Call to Act

About the Film

Gadsden, Alabama is home of the Noccalula Falls and the Broad St. Bridge. It’s also home to a Goodyear Tire plant … and a hardworking grandmother whose fight for equality would take her from the factory floor, to the Supreme Court, and all the way to the White House.

Lilly Ledbetter didn’t set out to be a hero. For almost 20 years, as an area manager – much of that time the only female manager at the plant – she supervised the making of tons of radial tires, managed the men who made them, won awards for her skills, and loved her job. After almost 20 years she was about to quietly retire.

Then one day, just before starting a 12-hour shift, she found handwritten note in her mailbox. It was stunning: a list of salaries that included Ledbetter’s and those of some male colleagues. It turned out that the entire time she’d worked at the Goodyear plant, most of two decades, she’d been paid less – substantially less – that her male counterparts. Not only that, but her pension was tied to her salary, meaning that for the rest of her life, Ledbetter would get less – substantially less – that her male colleagues. “Now if that’s not discrimination,” Ledbetter says, “I don’t know what it is.”

Ledbetter sued and a jury agreed, awarding her over $3 million. Goodyear appealed the verdict and for years the case wound its way through the court system. In 2007, the case reached the United States Supreme Court – nearly a decade after it was originally filed. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled in Goodyear’s favor. Lilly Ledbetter had lost.

Even though that meant Ledbetter could never recover the lost pay and pension for herself, that didn’t mean she gave up fighting for others. She testified at Congressional committee hearings, appeared at political rallies, gave interviews to the media, and even spoke at a national political convention. Congress heard her and sent a bill to the White House that would prevent anyone else from being treated the way Lilly Ledbetter was. In January of 2009, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act became the first law signed by President Obama.

“If an individual believes and got the grit that it takes,” Lilly Ledbetter explains, “they can stand up and continue fighting and make a difference.”

A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. tells the story of a remarkable fight for equality and fairness. As Senior Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett says about Lilly Ledbetter, “She was willing to fight hard on behalf of all the other women who still had an opportunity to be treated equally.”


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Credits

Writer, Producer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Gregory Blanc
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Photography, Edward Marritz and Daniel O’Shea
Production Associate, Andy Ogden
Consultant, María E. Matasar-Padilla
Coordinating Producers, Christina Lowery and Heidi Christenson
Sound, Mark Mandler and Derek Johnston
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Additional Field Production, Carla Denly
Additional Graphics, Tristian Goik
Interns, Andrew Mangino and Carla Altaras
Production Accountants, Mara Connolly and Andrea Yellen
Assistant to the Executive Producer, Lauren Mitte
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

The Bill of Rights

A Film and Interactive Game.

We all know that the Constitution guarantees every American certain basic rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to assembly, the right to a jury trial are just some of the rights explicitly protected by our Constitution. But these freedoms weren’t in the original version of the Constitution. In fact, many of the framers of the Constitution were dead set against including them in the document.

James Madison, who would become the fourth President of the United States, was the document’s primary author. Called the “Father of the Constitution,” Madison didn’t think we needed a Bill of Rights and the document that emerged from the Convention in 1787 reflected his conviction. He believed the Constitution as it was written already spelled out what the Federal Government could do – and, he believed, if it wasn’t in that document, it wasn’t any of the Federal Government’s business. No further protection was necessary.

Others among the Founders, such as Virginia delegate George Mason, vigorously disagreed. They weren’t so sure that the new government would be any better than the British had been. A long and bloody war to win independence had only recently ended, after all, and Mason wanted to ensure that the new government could not erase the freedoms they’d fought hard to secure. He declared that he would rather “chop off my right hand” than support a Constitution that did not include a Bill of Rights.

So, just a few years after the original Constitution was written, a new political battle ensued, pitting the Founding Fathers against one another and threatening the ratification of the document over which they’d wrestled so hard and long to create. The Federalists, including Madison, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, feared that if some rights were listed, others not explicitly enumerated would be left vulnerable. On the other side, the Anti-federalists, including Mason, Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry, were adamant that the Constitution must guarantee certain fundamental rights that no government could take away. They believed that not listing rights risked there not being any rights.

Both a film and video game, “The Bill of Rights” tells the story of a struggle that nearly tore the country apart before it had really even been established. But out of their compromise came one of our nation’s most central documents and the foundation for some of our most celebrated freedoms.

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Further Reading

Read the Bill of Rights and See the Original Document at the National Archives

Learn more about James Madison

 

Credits

Producer, Writer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Field Producer, Carla Denly
Associate Producers, Thomas Beckner and Gregory Blanc
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece, Hiroaki Sasa and Tristian Goik
Photography, Edward Marritz
Senior Production Associate, Charles Farrell
Production Associate, Andy Ogden
Supervising Producer, Christina Lowery
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Ben Decter
Additional Photography, Mark Stoddard and Thomas Beckner
Production Accountants, Mara Connolly and Andrea Yellen
Intern, Brian Taylor
Assistant to the Executive Producer, Lauren Mitte
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Korematsu and Civil Liberties

About the Film

On May 30, 1942, Fred Korematsu was arrested on a streetcorner in San Leandro, California. He knew he was breaking federal law – he had even undergone plastic surgery to avoid detection. His crime? Fred Korematsu was Japanese-American.

During World War II, 120,000 people in the United States were placed in internment camps. They weren’t soldiers captured on battlefields – all of them were civilians and most were American citizens. But they were also all of Japanese descent and that alone made them suspect.

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In February of 1942, just months after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed an executive order allowing the military to evacuate all people Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States. A short time later, Congress made it law.

Korematsu and Civil Liberties tells the story of one man’s 40 year struggle for justice and the consequences a nation faces when weighing national security, politics, and its Constitutional obligations.The internment “was not necessary,” Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer says in the film. “I think it is universally acknowledged that that was an error.”

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Further Reading

Read the Supreme Court’s decision in Korematsu v. United States

Read documents and view images related to the Japanese-American Internment

View photographs by Ansel Adams of the Manzanar camp 

Learn more about Pearl Harbor

Learn more about the Interment Camp sites

Credits

Producer, Writer and Narrator, Robe Imbriano
Field Producer, Carla Denly
Associate Producer, Sandra McDaniel
Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Graphics Animators, Victoria Nece and Hiroaki Sasa
Camera, Dave Dellaria, Brett Wiley and Edward Marritz
Production Associate, Gregory Blanc
Research, María E. Matasar-Padilla
Supervising Producer, Christina Lowery
Sound, Dave Baum, Brian Buckley and Mark Mandler
Music, Ben Decter and Gavin Allen
Additional Camera, Tony Forma and Daryl Patterson
Additional Sound, Jeff Edrich
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Checks and Balances

About the Film

In Youngstown v. Sawyer, a battle that starts as fight between a president and industry leaders makes its way to the Supreme Court as a test of the separation of powers. This time the setting is the Oval Office. Harry S. Truman is President, and he had inherited from his predecessor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a remarkable amount of power. After finishing the war with Germany and Japan, Truman and almost losing to Thomas Dewey in the 1948 election, Truman was back for one more term, and he went back to war…sort of. Truman sent troops to fight in Korea without asking Congress to declare war.

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But when union troubles among steelworkers and the steel industry executives threatened to halt production, Truman did all he could to keep the factories running—he needed that steel to help fight the conflict in Korea, after all. But Truman went too far. Unwilling to use the provisions of a recent law passed by Congress to deal with just this sort of situation because he believed it was unfair to the union, Truman did what he considered to be his only option: he took over the steel industry.

But the industry was not willing to take this lying down and within a few short weeks the case had reached the Supreme Court. Truman assumed he’d be victorious—he was the President, after all, and all of the Justices had been appointed either by him or FDR. And yet the Court, affirming its independence and proving that it’s free from political considerations, sided against the President and took the first step to limiting the powers of the office of the Chief Executive just years after they had been at their highest.

Further Reading

Learn about Harry Truman from the Truman Library

Read Truman’s presidential address about the steel seizure

Read Justice Jackson’s decision in Youngstown v. Sawyer

Credits

Producer and Writer, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Maria E. Matasar-Padilla
Editors, Sak Costanzo and Liz Mermin
Graphics Animator, Stevie Clifton
Director of Photography, Edward Marritz
Narrator, Erik Todd Dellums
Host, Dan Harris
Production Associate, Konstantinos Kambouroglou
Coordinating Producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Gavin Allen and Ben Decter
Associate Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Senior Editorial Producer, Todd Brewster
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin

Creating a Constitution

About the Film

Key Constitutional Concepts is a three-part film examining the creation of the Constitution and two real-life Constitutional conflicts that came to be seen as landmark Supreme Court cases: Gideon v. Wainwright and Youngstown v. Sawyer.

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Creating a Constitution takes a close look at the writing of the Constitution, taking us into Independence Hall in Philadelphia that hot summer in 1787 as the Founding Fathers, facing the very real possibility that their new country was going to fall apart from the outside in. The Founders bickered and compromised their way to a government that all of them would be surprised to find is still in existence over 200 years later.

As part of a box-set of classroom resources from Annenberg Classroom, Key Constitutional Concepts has been distributed to 50,000 educational institutions, as well as the U.S. Dept of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

Further Reading

See the Constitution at Our Documents from the National Archive

Check out Professor Carol Berkin’s biographies of the Framers

Learn about Philadelphia’s Independence Hall

Credits

Producer and Writer, Robe Imbriano
Associate Producer, Maria E. Matasar-Padilla
Editors, Sak Costanzo and Liz Mermin
Graphics Animator, Stevie Clifton
Director of Photography, Edward Marritz
Narrator, Erik Todd Dellums
Host, Dan Harris
Production Associate, Konstantinos Kambouroglou
Coordinating Producer, Gabrielle Tenenbaum
Sound, Mark Mandler
Music, Gavin Allen and Ben Decter
Associate Editor, Marc Tidalgo
Senior Editorial Producer, Todd Brewster
Senior Producer, Kayce Freed Jennings
Executive Producer, Tom Yellin