Abraham Lincoln and the Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus

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Seven slave states seceded from the Union once Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. Four more states joined when hostilities first began to erupt between North and South. This conflict transformed into a bloody civil war, one that saw brothers fight against brothers, and cost over 600,000 American lives. President Lincoln was determined to preserve the Union and fight the rebels. In these efforts, President Lincoln abused his enumerated powers and violated one of the fundamental rights of the nation he was trying to preserve when he suspended the writ of habeas corpus and ignored the Supreme Court while unreasonably defending his own illegal actions. The writ of habeas corpus is perhaps the most important right a citizen possesses. Sir William Blackstone, the author of young Lincoln’s revered Commentaries on the Laws of England, said “the writ of habeas corpus [is] the most celebrated writ in English law” . The writ guarantees someone imprisoned by the government an appearance before a court where a judge will determine if they have been lawfully detained. Once suspended, the government has no legal responsibility to confirm the cause of detainment. This writ can be thought of as “the fundamental safeguard against lawless and arbitrary state action” . The power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus exists plainly within the Constitution of the United States of America. In Article One, Section Nine, the Constitution simply states, “the Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion of the public Safety may require it” . However, this clause never specified which branch of government was responsible for this suspension, and definitely did not insinuate thi... ... middle of paper ... ...tion, which he believes makes clear that secession is illegal, without suspending habeas corpus. The President’s normally infallible logic is here again questioned; how can a president uphold the values and doctrines in the Constitution while illegally suspending one of the fundamental principles of citizenship? In conclusion, President Lincoln violated Constitutional law and abused his enumerated powers when he suspended the writ of habeas corpus, also referred to as the writ of liberty, within the loyal states. He disregarded the opinion of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court while illogically defending his own illegal actions. To preserve the Union, Lincoln sacrificed basic principles he, as a lawyer, understood the importance of. President Abraham Lincoln abused his presidential power, violating fundamental rights of the Union he was attempting to preserve.
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