Lincoln and the “Writ of Liberty”

The actual right of habeas corpus is not stated anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The authors of these documents apparently believed that habeas corpus was such a fundamental liberty that it needed no further guarantee in writing. The only mention of the writ of habeas corpus in the Constitution relates to when it can be taken away from judges. On September 24, 1862, Lincoln issued a proclamation unprecedented in American history. He suspended the writ of liberty everywhere in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Rights at Risk in Wartime

The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, stunned the nation. As commander-in-chief, President George W. Bush responded quickly but soon all three branches of government would be embroiled in the struggle to balance national security with the protection of individual liberties amid a war on terror. This lesson plan is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “Habeas Corpus: The Guantanamo Cases.” The four cases are examples of how the Supreme Court, the president and Congress fought to balance national security and civil liberties during the war on terror. At the heart of each case was the constitutional right of habeas corpus, the right to have one’s detention or imprisonment reviewed in court.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitutional Index – Habeas Corpus Clause

The Constitutional Index breaks down the U.S. Constitution by Section, Amendment, and Clause and contains broader topics and themes. These are used to cross-reference Library resources in an effort to annotate constitutional history.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Boumediene v. Bush (2008)

Do detainees at Guantanamo Bay have the constitutional right to challenge the legality of their confinement using a writ of habeas corpus? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2008.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Calcano-Martinez v. INS (2001)

Does the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act violate the due process clause by suspending habeas corpus or limiting access to the courts? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2001.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)

Does the Detainee Treatment Act take away the Court’s authority over habeas petitions filed by Guantanamo detainees that were pending at the time of its passage? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2006.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Abraham Lincoln and Executive Power

This lesson traces the rise of Abraham Lincoln from his humble beginnings to the presidency. It examines Lincoln’s ideas and decisions regarding slavery and the use of presidential power to preserve the Union during the Civil War. After the lesson, students should be able to explain how Lincoln overcame daunting disadvantages to become a great president, analyze and evaluate his decisions in response the critical constitutional issues of the Civil War, and understand and appreciate his legacy to American constitutionalism and citizenship.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)

Can a U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan, who the President claims was an “enemy combatant,” be detained indefinitely? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2004.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause

This documentary examines the case Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) in which the Supreme Court held that noncitizens have due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. A PDF lesson plan accompanies the video. The video A Conversation on the Importance of the Yick Wo Case complements the documentary.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A Conversation on the Importance of the Yick Wo Case

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy discusses the landmark ruling in Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) in which the Supreme Court decided that the Fourteenth Amendment provides “equal protection of the laws” for noncitizens. This video complements the documentary Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12