Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Suspension Of Rights

President Abraham Lincoln had the writ of Habeas Corpus suspended April 27th 1861 in Maryland.

In a response to riots, and the threat that Maryland would secede from the Union, President Abraham Lincoln had Habeas Corpus suspended April 27th 1861. The suspension covered Maryland and some parts of the Midwestern states. The suspension of Habeas Corpus allowed for private citizens to be tried in military courts. Lincoln was encouraged to this move as a way to control Peace Democrats and those who lived in Union but supported the Confederate cause.

The suspension was challenged and overturned by the United State Circuit Court in Maryland, under the leadership of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B Taney. Taney ruled the suspension of Habeas Corpus was unconstitutional as is could only be suspended by an Act of Congress. Lincoln ignored the courts decision. There were 13,000 arrested under martial law during the course of the war. It wasn't until 1866 that the Supreme Court officially restored Habeas Corpus, ruling that trying civilians in a military court was illegal.

Lincoln’s act read, “Whereas, It has become necessary to call into service, not only volunteers, but also portions of the militia of the States by draft, in order to suppress the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering this measure, and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection. Now, therefore, be it ordered, that during the existing insurrection, and as a necessary measure for suppressing the same, all rebels and insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting militia drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice affording aid and comfort to the rebels against the authority of the United States, shall be subject to martial law, and liable to trial and punishment by courts-martial or military commission.

Second: That the writ of habeas corpus is suspended in respect to all persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prisons, or other place of confinement, by any military authority, or by the sentence of any court-martial or military commission.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Twenty-fourth day of September,/// in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”

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