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  • “‘Taney Deserves His Tribute’: Responding to George W. Liebmann’s Opinion Editorial in The Baltimore Sun”

    Posted by Jonathan on February 22nd, 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman:

    In 1861, after Fort Sumter fell, the U.S. Army seized John Merryman, a Maryland citizen and state militia officer, and detained him in Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland. Merryman’s lawyers sought a writ of habeas corpus. After a hearing, Taney determined that the Army had violated the Constitution by seizing and detaining Merryman absent due process. Taney offered much flowing language—the sort which endears him to do-gooders and starry-eyed civil libertarians. But that is all that Taney did: He offered pieties in a judicial opinion. The reality is that Taney did not grant Merryman habeas corpus. In other words, Taney did not order the Army, or the commander at Fort McHenry (the named defendant in Ex parte Merryman), or the President, or anyone else to release Merryman from the Army’s prison. Now, perhaps the Army would not have obeyed any such a judicial order, but we will never know because Taney never issued one.

    Further interesting thoughts at the link.

     

    One Response to ““‘Taney Deserves His Tribute’: Responding to George W. Liebmann’s Opinion Editorial in The Baltimore Sun””

    1. Grurray Says:

      “Exactly why should we care about Taney’s personal expectations in regard to his former slaves? The measure of a decent post-slave society is not what the former master thinks of what the former slave made of his subsequent life, but what the former slave thinks of the former master and what, if anything, the former master did to help the slave adjust to his new circumstances. If one of Taney’s former slaves thought Taney deserved a statue, then that would be telling. But Liebmann offers no such statement. ”

      That reminds me of the stingingly funny letter from former slave Jordon Anderson to his old slave master.