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All the Laws but One: Civil Liberties in Wartime Paperback – January 4, 2000
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That Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist's analysis of civil liberties in wartime is entitled All the Laws but One hints where he comes down on the subject. Rehnquist acknowledges and criticizes the excesses of civil liberties violations in wartime--during World War I, for example, editorial cartoonists critical of the government were prosecuted for sedition. But he defends the need to curtail some liberties in emergency situations--including, surprisingly, some instances of the evacuation and relocation of Japanese Americans that took place during World War II. Rehnquist's style can be disjointed at times--as when cursory biographical information of key players seems to have been tacked on to fill out the otherwise slim volume--but the historical analysis of martial law and other Civil War controversies, which comprises the overwhelming majority of the book, remains fascinating. --Ted Frank --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Jon Roland, President, Constitution Society. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a treatise on the conflict between constitutional compliance and the doctrine of necessity, particularly during wartime. The title is from Lincoln's message of July 4, 1861, to Congress, justifying his proclamation of April 27, 1861, suspending the Habeas Corpus Act adopted by the First Congress, and following his defiance of the order of Chief Justice Taney in Ex Parte Merriman. Lincoln argued that although the qualified prohibition of suspension of habeas corpus in Article I Section 9 Clause 2 was grouped with the powers and prohibitions of Congress, the Constitution was silent concerning which branch could legally exercise the implied authority to suspend it, and asserted that in an emergency when Congress was not in session the president had that authority. He said that the writ of habeas corpus, which had been fashioned "with such extreme tenderness of the citizens' liberty," if strictly enforced as interpreted by Justice Taney would allow "all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated." The original charges against Merriman were for treason and other offenses for involvement in the burning of bridges north of and leading to Baltimore, Maryland, but Merriman was arrested by federal troops, charged in a military court, and held at Fort McHenry. Due to delays by Taney and others in prosecuting the case against him, Merriman was released on bail in the summer of 1861 and never tried.Read more ›
Contrary to some reviewers' comments here, Chief Justice Rehnquist's position on the matter is more to the middle than one might expect. While he believes in a balancing tension between liberty and order, and that the scales quite naturally tip towards order in wartime, he is also critical of some executive decisions that rashly peeled away civil liberties under the guise of wartime necessity.
More than three-quarters of this book focuses on executive power, and the judiciary's response to the use of that power, during the U.S. Civil War. The rest of the book looks mainly at the curtailment of civil liberties during WW1 and WW2. Rehnquist rarely considers at any length, however, the proper judicial response to the scaling back of civil liberties when war has not been declared, but a clear threat exists.
The book is highly sensible in its viewpoints. Unfortunately, Rehnquist is not a natural writer and his account often gets bogged down in his prose. His history of events sometimes feels tacked on to his analysis of the legal cases. If the author was not the Chief Justice, and the subject matter not of such compelling contemporary relevance, there would be little reason to bother with this book.
Supreme Court justices do not often publicly announce their philosophies outside of their opinions. Although Rehnquist seems to be objective for the most part, this book is still a fascinating look into the mind of one of most influential justices of the past quarter century.
Rehnquist examines the suspension of the writ of habeus corpus during three periods of war in American history: the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Roughly 2/3 of the book is given to the Civil War issues, and one senses that the other two sections were added primarily to fill out the work. Rehnquist does a fine job of setting up the relevant historical background of each of these eras and of outlining the opposing viewpoints considered in the Supreme Court cases that resulted. At times, it is difficult to discern Rehnquist's own opinion regarding the events and decisions he describes. In the end, however, he stakes out a moderate position, acknowledging that at times the government had justifiable reason for exercising a Constitutional option to suspend habeus corpus while also arguing that in many of these instances authorities had overstepped their bounds.
The main criticism of the work is its cursory nature. What Rehnquist gives the reader is good. One only wishes he had given us more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book deserves a bit more than 3 stars, maybe 3.5. It's a bit simplistic for those with a legal background, but it gives a nice overview of a limited set of legal issues facing... Read morePublished 10 months ago by D. Elliott
If you want to actually know about U.S. military history and culture, start here. Anything else will lead you to get here anyway.Published 11 months ago by James J. Frey
Excellent, historical work. To understand a thing, we must first reverse-engineer it --- get to the root. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Michael Chatfield
I purchased this assuming that the former SCOTUS judge would provide new legal insight and obscure information on the topic, but instead most of the examples he cites are fairly... Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by intrigued
Really excellent book, would recommend for anyone wanting to read up on the history of the laws, really good read.Published on October 1, 2012 by J. Shinton
This is an excellent book concerning civil laws in war time, everyone should read it, most especially those who believe that we have "lost" our civil liberties during the past... Read morePublished on June 29, 2010 by Marjorie K. Chamberlin
This is a brief book written by the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist. If you want a brief overview of U.S. Read morePublished on June 24, 2008 by William J. Romanos
Chief Justice William Rehnquist's "All the Laws But One: Civil Liberties in Wartime" is one of those books that doesn't live up to its potential. Read morePublished on May 22, 2008 by A. Courie