QUESTION: Is it true that Lincoln suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus, and when the Supreme Court ruled against him, he just ignored them? Didn’t this also undermine the rule of law to where we stand today?
ANSWER: Sadly, yes, you heard correctly. At the time, Chief Justice Roger Taney ruled that President Lincoln did not have the authority to suspend habeas corpus. Lincoln just ignored the Supreme Court entirely and refused to release John Merryman, who was a state legislator from Maryland, whom they arrested for attempting to hinder Union troops from moving from Baltimore to Washington. Later, on July 4, Lincoln, in a speech was very defiant. He acted like a tyrant and claimed he needed to suspend the rules in order to put down the rebellion in the South. So in other words, the rule of law and the Constitution mean nothing if the government claims it needs to act unconstitutionally.
Five years later, a new Supreme Court essentially backed Justice Taney’s ruling: In an unrelated case, the court held that only Congress could suspend habeas corpus and that civilians were not subject to military courts, even during a war.
I have read the discussions to form the Constitution. There is no question that the Framers intended to apply Blackstone’s foundation of law and to some extent, even Lord Coke. These were the glory days of the Rule of Law. The abuse of the rule of law in England really began during the 18th century. The colonies were denied most of the English Bill of Rights from the 17th century, which emerged after the English Revolution against King Charles I and his beheading in 1649.
The Sixth Amendment to our Constitution was intended to guarantee you counsel, which was denied in England since you had to defend yourself and all lawyers were prosecutors for the King. It entitled you to a trial by jury created in the Magna Carta against the abuse of the King back in the 13th century.
However, the Sixth Amendment guarantees a trial where the crime occurred – VENUE. The King would charge you, but because American juries would rule against the king, he put you in chains and transported you to England, where an English jury would always find you guilty. These were part of the abuses of the Rule of Law that led to the Revolution. You see, the Special Prosecutor indicts Trump in Washington DC, where 85% of the people are Democrats, but then files the criminal change in Florida. He is abusing the rule of law exactly as did the King.
Now, the mistake the Framers made was it took the theoretical King/Queen’s Bench which was supposed to be strictly law, and merged it with Chancery, which was “discretion” under EQUITY. It is true that the concept of equity or fairness predated Romans and was part of Asian culture as well as Judaea, where King Solomon decided who the real month of the child was.
I am concerned with the evolution of how we ended up where we are, and there is now NO POSSIBLE WAY the lawyers can reverse this trend. We have to crash and burn. Once you merge the King/Queen Bench with Chancery (discretion), there can be no rule of law. The very standard of review by an appellate court is now abuse of discretion. That is precise what Lord Coke declared:
“God send me never to live under the law of convenience or discretion.”
It was during the late 17th century that we find the original hanging judge – Lord Chief Justice George Jeffreys. He was a ruthless prosecutor who targeted Catholics from 1677 until 1685. Then he was made Chief Justice. He was absolutely ruthless. He was a Puratin – no mercy. On Christmas Day no less, Jeffreys ordered the whipping of a woman:
“Hangman, I charge you to pay particular attention to this lady. Scourge her soundly, man; scourge her till her blood runs down! It is Christmas, a cold time for madam to strip. See that you warm her shoulders thoroughly.”
For stealing an apple when starving, he would ship you to America and rob your family of any support, all for the profit of selling “criminals” to plantation owners in America. You have no idea of how evil the rule of law has become when governments seek to exercise their power. There are never any rights that supersede the sheer will of the government.
This is what John Stuart Mill wrote about in his celebrated On Liberty. Just look at what they are doing to Trump. Indicting him where they can ensure Democrats would execute him if they could, and they charge him in Florida to comply superficially with the Sixth Amendment. This is the same abuse of law that led to the American Revolution, and there is NOBODY in Congress standing up for the last string that holds our civilization together.
Lincoln suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus by executive decree. During World War II, the Supreme Court allowed the imprisonment of all Japanese based entirely on their race, even if they were third-generation Americans. If we go to war with China, does that allow the government to imprison all Chinese simply because of their race? What if we went to war with Italy? Shall all Italians report to concentration camps?
We handed out one of the reports on Marshal Law, which Lincoln used to circumvent the Constitution. He just ignored the Supreme Court, and this is what we have to look forward to.