Habeas Corpus Act of 1863


Continuing on with our examination of the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the first, second, third and fourth parts of which may be read here, here, here and here.

After his initial suspension of habeas corpus in 1861 Lincoln wanted Congress to delegate the power to him to do so, but this was not accomplished until 1863.

In 1861 Senator Henry Wilson (R. Mass.) sponsored a joint resolution approving the acts of the President against the rebellion, including his suspension of habeas corpus.  However the Democrats in the Senate successfully stopped the resolution through a filibuster.

Lincoln’s old colleague Senator Lyman Trumbull (R.Ill.) introduced a bill that contained a provision granting to the President authority to suspend habeas corpus.  In 1862 the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against it, but its provision granting the power to suspend habeas corpus to the President served as the basis for the Habeas Corpus Act of 1863.

Republican predominance in the House meant that passing a bill granting to the President authority to suspend Habeas Corpus was never a problem in that chamber.  The problem was in the Senate where a filibuster could stop a bill dead in its tracks.  The Democrats attempted a filibuster in the early morning hours of March 3, 1863 , but bungled the effort and the Act passed and was immediately signed by Lincoln.  The beginning of the Act reads: (more…)

Published in: on December 6, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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