Miller Center

Justin Wert

Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

The Not-So-Great Writ: Habeas Corpus & American Political Development

Wert photo

Justin Wert is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma

His research interests include Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, American Political Development and American Political Thought. 

In Wert's dissertation, he analyzed the institutional development of Habeas Corpus law in four time periods: ante-bellum slave law; Reconstruction; the 20th century debates over the applicability ("Incorporation") of the Bill of Rights to the states; and habeas corpus during war, particularly the current prosecution of the "War on Terror." The writ of habeas corpus – "The most important human right in the Constitution" according to Zecharia Chafee – must be re-examined in the 21st century according to its etymological roots. Wert argued that habeas corpus has always been inextricably linked to shifting notions of American citizenship, moving from state to national, and then again to state conceptions of citizenship, with the respect to meaningful access to the "Great Writ." The origins of this divide can be found in the enduring, yet shifting, conceptions of state versus national citizenship in the American state.

Fellowship year: 2005

Mentor: Gary Gerstle, Vanderbilt University

Selected Recent Publications

Habeas Corpus in America: The Politics of Individual Rights (University Press of Kansas, 2011).

The Rise and Fall of the Voting Rights Act. with Charles S. Bullock, III & Keith Gaddie (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)

"Benedick v. Beatrice: Citizens United and the Reign of the Laggard Court." with Charles S. Bullock and Ronald Keith Gaddie, Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy (Spring 2011).

With a Little Help from a Friend: Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta After Runnymede.” PS: Political Science and Politics (2010)

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