“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” (U.S. Constitution, art. I, § 9, cl. 2) Habeas corpus is the means by which judges inspect the legality of imprisonment or detention in all forms. By the suspension clause, the writ seems present in the Constitution only by fear of its absence. But a positive force runs through this otherwise negative statement: the force of a privilege. Understanding the privilege recognized by the clause requires historical...
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