Academic report

AEDPA Repeal

By Brandon L. Garrett & Kaitlin Phillips, on 1 September 2022


Given how pressing the problem has become, and the real interest in reforms to promote access to justice, this article takes a different tack than prior habeas reform work: to restore habeas corpus to its pre-AEDPA and pre-Rehnquist court state, in which a federal court can review claims and reach their merits. The approach would preserve flexibility at the district court level and remove the many layers of procedural complexity that the Supreme Court and then Congress have erected. We believe that deep changes are needed, and in that, we agree with judges and scholars that have for some time proposed such changes in the writ. As we describe, AEDPA was enacted as a culmination of more than two decades of complex Supreme Court law that had already limited access to federal habeas corpus. While AEDPA incorporated some of those procedural rulings, the concern would be that should AEDPA be repealed, even in part, those court-made restrictions could be interpreted to supplant AEDPA restrictions. Clear statutory language will be needed to ensure that the Court does not frustrate Congress, as it has in the past, by supplementing statutory text in order to limit constitutional remedies. We do not mean to suggest that the various proposals set out here are exhaustive. Our goal is to promote careful considerations of alternatives to the present-day set of federal habeas corpus statutes and accompanying judicial interpretation.

  • Document type Academic report
  • Countries list United States
  • Themes list Terrorism