Joyce Appleby on Bush
|Via Josh Marshall, I see that Joyce Oldham Appleby, author of one of my favorite early modern history books, has co-written with Sen. Gary Hart a piece for the History News Service that she co-directs, called "The Founders Never Imagined a Bush Administration." It's a good piece, for a general audience, especially with the Hamdan case being argued today in the Supreme Court, a case that raises questions very much related to early modern constitutional history (see this excellent ACLU summary of the issues in Hamdan).|
When they wrote crucial parts of the Constitution--the power of the purse, the habeas clause, the impeachment clause, the advice and consent clause, the Third Amendment, the Eighth Amendment--the founders had in mind the Five Knights' Case (Darnel's Case), the Ship Money case, the Petition of Right (text), the Grand Remonstrance (text), and other elements of what used to be called the "road to Civil War" (even if modern historians don't believe there was such a high road to war, the founders may well have), as well as the later Stuart history culminating in the 1679 Habeas Corpus Act (text) and the 1689 Bill of Rights (text). Now that Bush has claimed emergency power to suspend or abrogate the law (see here as well), to use war powers on US citizens, to determine alone and without Congress when a state of war exists, to suspend habeas corpus (without the "invasion" or "rebellion" that the Constitution demands), to detain and try US citizens by martial rather than civil law, this early modern history seems more important than ever. (The only thing we haven't seen yet, by my count, is a forced loan, but give him time, that Iraq war costs a lot more than he thought it would ....) I wish some eminent historian of the early modern Atlantic world like Appleby or J.G.A. Pocock would write an op-ed on the subject to remind us of this constitutional tradition and its stakes. Or is there already something like this out there that I've missed?