no freeman could be detained in prison except upon a criminal charge or conviction, or for a civil debt. In the fomrer case it was always in his power to demand of the Court of King's Bench a writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum directed to the person detaining him in custody, by which he was enjoined to bring up the bodyof the prisoner with the warrant of commitment that the court might judge ofits sufficiency and remand the party, admit him to bail or discharge him according to the nature of the charge. This writ issued of right, and could not be rfused by the court. It was not to bestow an immunity from arbitrary imprisonment which is abundantly provided for in Magna Charta (if indeed it was not more ancient) that the statute of Charles II. was enacted, but to cut off the abuses by which the government's lust of power and servile subtlety of Crown lawyers had impaired sofundamental a privilege.
While the value set upon this writ in England has been so great that the removal of the abuses which embarrassment its enjoyment have been looked upon as almost a new grant of liberty to the subject, it is not to be woundered at that the continunace of the writ thus made effective should have been the object of the most jealous care. Accordingly no power in that of Parlaiment can suspend or authorize the suepension of the writ of habeas corpus. I quote again from Blackstone (1 Com., 136):
But the happiness of our constitution is that it is not left to the executive power to determine when the danger of the State is to great as to render this measure expecdient. It is the Parliament only or legislative power that whenever it sees proper can authorize the Crown by suspending the habeas corpus for a short and limited time to imprison suspected persons without giving any reason for so doing.
And if the President of the United States may suspend the writ then the Constitution of the United States has conferred upon him more regal and absolute power over the liberty of the citizen than the people of England have thought it safe to intruct to the Crown-a power which the Queen of England cannot exercise at this day and which could not have been lawfully exercised by the sovereign even in the reign of Charles the First.
But I am not left to form my judgment upon this great question from analogies between the English Government and our own, or the commentaries of Engligh jurists or the deicsions of English court, although upon this subject they are entitled to the highest respect and are justly regarded and received as authoritative by our courts of justice. To guide me to a right conclusion I have the Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States of the late Mr. Justice Story, not only one of the most eminent jurists of the age but for a long time one of the brightest ornaments of the Supreme Court of the United States, and also the clear and authoritative decision of that court itself given more than half a century since and conclusively establishing the principles I have above stated. Mr. Justice Story speaking in his Commentaries of the habeas corpus clause in the Constitution says:
It is obvious that cases of apeculair emergency may arise which may justify, may even require the temporary suspension of any right to the writ. But as it has frequently happedn in foregin countries and even in England that the writ has upon various pretexts and occasions been suspended, whereby persons apprehended upon suspicion have suffered a long imprisonment sometimes from design and sometimes because they were forgotten, the right to suspend it si expressly confined to cases of rebellion or invasion where the public safety may require it. A very just and wholesome restraint, which cuts down at a blow a fruitful means of oppression capable of being abused in bad times to the worst of purposes. Hitherto no suspension of the writ has ever been authorized by Congress since the stablishment of the Constitution. It would seem as the power is given to Congress to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in cases of rebellion or invasion that the right to judge wncy had arisen must exclusively belong to that body. (3 Story's Com. on the Constitution, sec. 1336.)