Habeas Corpus in America
From the author: During the summer of 2001 I set out to research and write about habeas corpus, the purported Great Writ of Liberty. Like many others before me--and, I hope, many after me--I was first intrigued with Abraham Lincoln's use (or nonuse) of the writ during the first months of his fateful presidency. Speaking before a Congress that he called into special session on 4 July 1861, Lincoln asked those representatives who still remained with Union a question that we today still have not answered adequately: "Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?" Few questions, I thought, were as important as this one, not only from the perspective of political science, but also from the perspective of all citizens who take seriously a necessary sense of duty to country. I would now go forth and attempt to chart the contours of Lincoln's question, taking as my case study his controversial suspension of habeas during the Civil War years. I was confident that a sustained look at habeas's suspension could yield new perspectives and new ways of understanding this immensely important question.
- 2011 University Press of Kansas
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