Omelets and Eggs
I have now reached the Thirty-Ninth Congress and Bingham’s drafting of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment, which means that my blogging will cease for a while. (Besides, I think I annoyed enough people with my posts last week. Next month I look forward to irritating people of a different persuasion when the Supreme Court hears the health care arguments.)
Couple of thoughts about the chapter that I just finished about Bingham’s prosecution of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators (including Mary Surratt). The obvious irony in this case is that the great civil libertarian argued for a military trial and rejected the application of the Bill of Rights to the defendants. Here’s the more subtle point, though. But for the fame that Bingham achieved in this (highly questionable) prosecution, he may not have received a spot on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction and would not have been in a position to write the Due Process Clause into the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s probably going too far to say that Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment rests in part on the conviction of innocent people, but it’s worth pondering.