(June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 965; Pub. L. 89–711, § 1, Nov. 2, 1966, 80 Stat. 1104; Pub. L. 104–132, title I, §§ 101, 106, Apr. 24, 1996, 110 Stat. 1217, 1220.)
This section makes no material change in existing practice. Notwithstanding the opportunity open to litigants to abuse the writ, the courts have consistently refused to entertain successive “nuisance” applications for habeas corpus. It is derived from H.R. 4232 introduced in the first session of the Seventy-ninth Congress by Chairman Hatton Sumners of the Committee on the Judiciary and referred to that Committee. The practice of suing out successive, repetitious, and unfounded writs of habeas corpus imposes an unnecessary burden on the courts. See Dorsey v. Gill, 1945, 148 F.2d 857, 862, in which Miller, J., notes that “petitions for the writ are used not only as they should be to protect unfortunate persons against miscarriages of justice, but also as a device for harassing court, custodial, and enforcement officers with a multiplicity of repetitious, meritless requests for relief. The most extreme example is that of a person who, between July 1, 1939, and April 1944 presented in the District Court 50 petitions for writs of habeas corpus; another person has presented 27 petitions; a third, 24; a fourth, 22; a fifth, 20. One hundred nineteen persons have presented 597 petitions—an average of 5.”
Section amended to modify original language which denied Federal judges power to entertain application for writ where legality of detention had been determined on prior application and later application presented no new grounds, and to omit reference to rehearing in section catch line and original provision authorizing hearing judge to grant rehearing. 80th Congress, Senate Report No. 1559, Amendment No. 45.
1996—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104–132, § 106(a), substituted “, except as provided in section 2255.” for “and the petition presents no new ground not heretofore presented and determined, and the judge or court is satisfied that the ends of justice will not be served by such inquiry.” Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 104–132, § 106(b), amended subsec. (b) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (b) read as follows: “When after an evidentiary hearing on the merits of a material factual issue, or after a hearing on the merits of an issue of law, a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court has been denied by a court of the United States or a justice or judge of the United States release from custody or other remedy on an application for a writ of habeas corpus, a subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of such person need not be entertained by a court of the United States or a justice or judge of the United States unless the application alleges and is predicated on a factual or other ground not adjudicated on the hearing of the earlier application for the writ, and unless the court, justice, or judge is satisfied that the applicant has not on the earlier application deliberately withheld the newly asserted ground or otherwise abused the writ.” Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 104–132, § 101, added subsec. (d). 1966—Pub. L. 89–711 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), struck out provision making the subsection’s terms applicable to applications seeking inquiry into detention of persons detained pursuant to judgments of State courts, and added subsecs. (b) and (c).