Lincoln, Bush, and the Constitution

I’ve been invited to give a public talk tonight, at the William G. Thompson House Museum in Hudson, Michigan, about constitutional challenges during the Civil War and after 9/11. The House has a special display on Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Civil War on display now, and they had the nice idea of pairing that with the 9/11 anniversary to tie the events together intellectually.

Here’s my thesis: Under the theory that the Constitution is not a suicide pact, Lincoln’s extra-constitutional act suspending the writ of habeus corpus was justified because it was taken in a time of crisis, when Congress was not in session and in the threat of dissolution of the nation, while the post 9/11 actions of Presidents Bush and Obama in utilizing warrantless wiretaps and denying access to the courts are not justified, because Congress is in session to pass any necessary laws and 9/11 did not pose a threat to national survival.

The talk is going to be recorded and televised by the local intermediate school district, a first for me, although I have been interviewed for the newspaper and on radio. The BBC, New York Times and CNN are not yet knocking on my door, but I expect the phone to start ringing any day now.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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3 Responses to Lincoln, Bush, and the Constitution

  1. Pink says:

    I’m sure your audience will enjoy your comments. I wish I could hear it.

  2. pierrecorneille says:

    I think any discussion of whether Lincoln’s suspending habeas corpus was justified will have to consider whether it did or was likely to do any good. I’m not sure of the answer. I have heard that Maryland legislators might have voted to secede if Lincoln hadn’t arrested them, but I’m not even sure if that (his ordering them arrested) really happened. I’m skeptical that a Maryland attempt at secession would have been put into practice effectively. But I could be wrong.

  3. James Hanley says:

    Alas, the videographer did not show up, so I did not appear on local cable-access TV. My budding career on the Sunday morning political shoutfests has been cut short.

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