September 14, 2011
In a recent review in the New Republic, HLS Professor Adrian Vermeule ’93 examines the book “The Body of John Merryman: Abraham Lincoln and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus” (Harvard University Press, 2011) by Brian McGinty.
McGinty's book explores a famous episode in which President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus for John Merryman—an officer in an armed quasi-militia in Maryland that waged private war on the federal government—and then ignored a judgment by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney declaring the suspension unconstitutional.
Vermeule writes: "McGinty’s account offers a more vivid and rounded picture of the episode by giving Taney’s motivations and hypocrisies equal billing; doing so puts Lincoln’s actions in an even more favorable light than history already has. Beset by enemies on all sides, Lincoln had also to cope with calculated opposition clothed in judicial robes, and he did so with admirable restraint."
Read full review here.
Vermeule's forthcoming book is "The System of the Constitution" (Oxford University Press, 2011). He is also the author of “The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic,” co-written with Eric A. Posner ’91 (Oxford University Press, 2011).