Writ and Wrongs
A new study reveals the penal origins of a fundamental right
From England to Empire
by Paul D. Halliday
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
$39.95 List Price
Before September 11, 2001, the doctrine of habeas corpus—the principle that the state must explain why it's hauled you off in leg shackles—was rarely the subject of legal dispute. Habeas cases were filed, and the writ was either granted or denied. But the claim that judges couldn't hear such cases—that the government might detain great masses of people for years on end and without justification—wasn't really open to debate.