The Great Writ

Class Unique: 28367

In reviewing the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, William Blackstone concluded that “the remedy is now complete.”  But that hasn't stopped the habeas remedy from evolving.  Blackstone’s writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum bears little resemblance to the one that individuals routinely seek in federal courts today.  This course will explore the history of the Great Writ and its evolution from the common law demand that a “gaoler” bring a prisoner before a court into the modern habeas doctrines that implicate broad and complex questions of constitutional and statutory law.  Along the way, we will cover the Suspension Clause, executive detention in wartime, the law of immigration and deportation, and collateral attacks on criminal judgments.  The habeas writ poses important structural questions about the balance of power between the federal branches and between the federal and state courts.  But it’s practical too:  This course should prove valuable to students planning to clerk on the federal courts or planning to work in criminal prosecution, capital defense, national security, or immigration.  Grades will be based on a final exam.

Class Details

Meeting Days Time Location
Wednesday 5:45 - 7:35 pm TNH 3.125
Evaluation Method Date Time Alpha Range Room
Final 5/14/19 8:30 am A-Z

Additional Information

Course Type
Grading Method
Pass/Fail Not Allowed
Will use floating mean GPA if applicable


  • Federal Habeas Corpus: Executive Detention and Post-Conviction Litigation - Brandon L. Garrett & Lee Kovarsky
      Foundation Press , edition: 1st
      ISBN: 978-1609301880   (required)