Lincoln, the Constitution of Necessity, and the Necessity of Constitutions


Some invoke the legacy of Abraham Lincoln to justify largely unchecked executive power which in times of war trumps constitutional limits and guarantees of liberty. This article suggests that the Lincoln model is a poor one to follow: because some of his actions were inconsitent with democratic government, because the administration invoked the doctrine of necessity when many of the cabinet thought no necessity existed, and because in the end, Lincoln himself refused to follow his logic to its inevitable conclusion. It critiques two article by Michael Paulsen invoking Lincoln to justify largely unchecked executive power.


Law and Politics

Date of this Version

February 2006