The Limits of Law
This short Epilogue parallels the Prologue by recalling another profound American crisis that raised the issue of official obedience to law: the Civil War, and in particular Lincoln's arguably unconstitutional suspension of habeas corpus in the war's early days. The Prologue uses Lincoln's suspension of habeas to illustrate two basic points about the limits of legal authority. First, the law remains subject to morality: Sometimes the morally correct thing will be to disobey the law, and the best the law can do is provide strong reasons to consider and respect its commands in times of crisis. Second, the law is constrained by reality: Its success requires a deep level of consensus about basic substantive and procedural values and about the imperative to peacefully resolve disputes. That consensus will not exist always and everywhere, and it requires attention to social and cultural issues, not merely legal ones.
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