Courtroom Wars: Pennsylvania Judges and Popular Constitutional Discourse in the Civil War North
Nicholas Mosvick, "Courtroom Wars: Pennsylvania Judges and Popular Constitutional Discourse in the Civil War North," 8 Faulkner L. Rev. 2, 269 (2017).
80 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
In November 1863, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction in the case of Kneedler v. Lane by a vote of 3-2 which declared the Enrollment Act of 1863 or the Conscription Act unconstitutional. This article seeks to describe how, over the course of 1863, Pennsylvania judges confronted the constitutional arguments over the Conscription Act amidst a background of Judge Woodward's campaign for governor and the push by Democratic newspapers and party members to share constitutional critiques of the Conscription Act with the public. The article also accesses newly unearthed evidence in the form of briefs, interrogatories, and oral arguments before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in the case of Kneedler, showing the meticulous ways in which anti-administration lawyers crafted their arguments against the constitutionality of the Conscription Act. The robust debate that emerges from these cases and legal arguments reflects the constitutional discourse among Northern citizens, which reflects their trepidation over expanding federal power and changing notions of sovereignty.
Keywords: constitutional history, legal history, pennsylvania, state court, conscription, civil war
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