Drawing Lines of Sovereignty: State Habeas Doctrine and the Substance of States' Rights in Confederate Conscription Cases

Rutherfurd, Winthrop, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Nicoletti, Cynthia, School of Law, University of Virginia
Goluboff, Risa, School of Law, University of Virginia

My thesis argues that state judges in the Confederacy embraced state habeas (an antebellum procedural doctrine wherein state courts could receive habeas petitions from federal prisoners) to preserve to states’ rights procedurally while allowing for centralization in practice. Further, how the Jefferson Davis administration responded to state judges’ embrace of state habeas was emblematic of a constitutional identity crisis about how much states’ rights mattered as a doctrine independent of slavery, and, consequently, uncertainty about what exactly the South was fighting for. Lastly, this paper fills a gap in Federal Courts scholarship by presenting the ways in which state habeas jurisdiction was defended in practice as an offshoot of state sovereignty, characterized as a bastion of individual liberty, and conceived of as an integral component in the separation of powers.

MA (Master of Arts)
Confederate Legal History, Habeas Corpus, Civil War Federalism, Civil War
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: