Lincoln's Suspension of Habeas Corpus

, New York Law Journal

The Association of Supreme Court Justices, in conjunction with the New York Law Journal and the New York City Department of Education, sponsored its ninth annual essay contest, which was open to New York City public high school students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades. This year, students submitted an essay on the “Legacy of Lincoln” and the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War. The winners were announced at a ceremony on Dec. 2 at the New York City Bar. On hand for the event, from left, are Department of Education Counsel Michael Best; Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Michelle Weston, president of the New York State Association of Justices of the Supreme Court; Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Abraham G. Gerges, who founded the contest; grand prize winner Aaron Shapiro; Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman; and Law Journal publisher George M. Dillehay.

It was once said, "In times of war law is silent." (A Latin Phrase: inter arma silent leges). It was early January 1861, when the political state of the Union became extremely grave. Six states from the deep South, lead by South Carolina, had seceded from the Union. It was not until after the Confederates bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to save the Union. The states of Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee followed suit to secede. The situation of the federal Capital was quite precarious. On its south, Alexandria, the northern part of Virginia, was packed with rebels. Surrounding the capital, north, east and west was Maryland, a slave state full of Confederates.

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