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.