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A revisionist history of habeas corpus the world's most revered legal device. Habeas corpus was not established to protect the rights of the individual but rather to protect the individual from abusive judges and jailers.
This pioneering comparative study of British imperialism in the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds draws on the perspectives of British newcomers overseas and their native hosts, metropolitan officials and corporate enterprises, migrants and settlers. Leading scholars examine the divergences and commonalities in the legal and economic regimes that allowed Britain to project imperium across the globe. They explore the nature of sovereignty and law, governance and regulation, diplomacy, military relations and commerce, shedding new light on the processes of expansion that influenced the making of empire. While acknowledging the distinctions and divergences in imperial endeavours in Asia and the Americas - not least in terms of the size of indigenous populations, technical and cultural differences, and approaches to indigenous polities - this book argues that these differences must be seen in the context of what Britons overseas shared, including constitutional principles, claims of sovereignty, disciplinary regimes and military attitudes.
Despite its mystique as the greatest Anglo-American legal protection, habeas corpus' history features power plays, political hypocrisy, ad hoc jurisprudence, and failures in securing individual liberty. This book tells the story of the writ from medieval England to modern America, crediting the rocky history to the writ's very nature as a government power. The book weighs in on habeas' historical controversies - addressing its origins, the relationship between king and parliament, the US Constitution's Suspension Clause, the writ's role in the power struggle between the federal government and the states, and the proper scope of federal habeas for state prisoners and wartime detainees from the Civil War and World War II to the War on Terror. It stresses the importance of liberty and detention policy in making the writ more than a tool of power. The book presents a more nuanced and critical view of the writ's history, showing the dark side of this most revered judicial power.
The volume begins with a study by Douglass C. North that emphasizes the economic and social factors that encouraged the development of freedom in the West and inhibited its development in other societies, notably China. The Greeks first devised civil and political liberty, and also were the first to have a word, eleutheria, for the concept. Martin Ostwald traces the history of the word over the course of Greek history, seeking when and why it assumed a meaning similar to freedom. Brian Tierney demonstrates how the medieval Church, by perpetuating Roman traditions of popular election and inspiring representative government, was vital to the development of modern freedom. The earliest secular institutions to follow the example of the Church in shaping their own governments were the towns of Italy, and John Hine Mundy shows how the towns served as the initial training grounds for laymen in the practice of free government. Monarchs whose coffers were depleted by continuous warfare sought to tap the resources of the wealthy towns and better-off rural residents, but these long-independent groups were not easily bullied and gathered their representatives together to negotiate taxation and grievances. In two chapters, H. G. Koenigsberger traces this background of parliaments and estates from all over Europe from the thirteenth century through the early modern era. In seventeenth-century England, parliamentary legislation would become the major vehicle for protecting the liberties of the subject. Before that, however, the common law courts were the main arena for advancing freedom, as J. H. Baker shows in his examination of the key developments in the common law. Traditionally, the Renaissance and the Reformation have been looked upon as largely separate phenomena. William J. Bouwsma asserts that in fact they were closely linked, with profound consequences for the shaping of modern freedom. Donald R. Kelley discusses the various forms and justifications of resistance that arose against the powerful monarchies that had emerged from the chaos and confusion of the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.
Habeas corpus is everyone's 'get out of jail free' card. It is the legal remedy ensuring a person's release from prison or any other form of custody when the detention cannot be justified in law. This volume provides in-depth and critical analysis of the law behind this vital protection of liberty.
Tom Bingham (1933-2010) was the 'greatest judge of our time' (The Guardian), a towering figure in modern British public life who championed the rule of law and human rights inside and outside the courtroom. Lives of the Law collects Bingham's most important later writings, in which he brings his distinctive, engaging style to tell the story of the diverse lives of the law: its life in government, in business, and in human wrongdoing. Following on from The Business of Judging (2000), the papers collected here tackle some of the major debates in British public life over the last decade, from reforming the constitution to the growth of human rights law. They offer Bingham's distinctive insight on issues such as the role of the judiciary in a democracy, the implementation of the Human Rights Act, and the development of the rule of law, in the UK and internationally. Written in the accessible style that made The Rule of Law (2010) a popular success, the book will be essential reading for all those working in law, and an engaging inroad to understanding modern constitutional and legal debates for the general reader.

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