Week 2 Assignment Patricia Taylor Ashford University: American National Government Instructor: David Kraff September 15, 2014
Final Paper 2
The American Constitution is written to protect and govern the citizens of our great nation. Those that oppose the American way of life and threaten our freedoms in any way should not be allowed our same inalienable rights. Throughout history there has been times that our government has had to suspend certain rights that should be guaranteed for American citizens, for matters of national security. Habeas Corpus, or translated, ‘you should have the body’, is a legal action, or writ, by which individuals imprisoned unlawfully can seek relief from their imprisonment. Derived from English common law, habeas corpus first appeared in the Magna Carta of 1215 and is the oldest human right in the history of English-speaking civilization. The doctrine of habeas corpus stems from the requirement that a government must either charge a person or let him go free. (Rutherford Institute, 2014) Thomas Jefferson addressed the necessity of habeas corpus in his inaugural address on March 4th, 1801, by saying, “I know indeed, that some honest men fear that a republican government cannot be strong; that this government is not strong enough,” then continued to explain, “freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.” (Rutherford Institute, 2014) Jefferson understood the importance of this freedom which was often violated in monarchial governments under which prisoners could be arrested for absolutely no reason at all, and held in defiantly without a trial, and would often times be put to death without a trial by their peers.
Final Paper 3
The most important time, and most similar time to the present issue of habeas corpus, would have been the suspension of habeas corpus during the time of the American Civil War. On April 27, 1861, about a week after the Fort Sumter surrender, President Lincoln ordered General Winfield Scott, head of the nation’s military, to arrest anyone between Washington and Philadelphia suspected of subversive acts or speech, and his order specifically authorized suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Scott passed the order down the line, and southern sympathizers in Maryland were rounded up in batches. (etymonline, 2002) One of the arrested was John Merryman, a prominent Baltimorean, president of the Maryland State Agricultural Society among other things, and an active and vocal secessionist. Merryman was arrested on May 25th, then his lawer filed a writ of habeas corpus and commanded the military officer in charge of Merryman to show the cause, if any, for his arrest and detention. The writ however was never served due to the executive order of the president during war time, the confederate president, Jefferson Davis, had even established the same suspension in the Confederacy. This case in 1861 appears to be very similar to the case of Boumediene v. Bush, a historic case in which the Supreme court ruled on June 12th, 2008 that the detainees of Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to habeas corpus, to