Chapter

The Tenets of Terror: Reinventing the Law of Martial Law

R. W. Kostal

in A Jurisprudence of Power

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551941
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191714320 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199551941.003.0005

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern Legal History

 The Tenets of Terror: Reinventing the Law of Martial Law

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The dramatic decision of the Jamaica Committee to prosecute Edward Eyre for murder in the English courts spawned the publication of a voluminous and highly contentious technical legal literature on the law of martial law. This work focussed on the legality, or otherwise, of the arrest, detention, trial and execution by court martial of George Gordon. It raised questions about the nature and scope of ‘martial law’ and its place, if any, within the British constitution. While legal writers such as W. F. Finlason defended expansive doctrines of martial law, others (such as Frederic Harrison) used the same legal materials to defend the opposite thesis. The chapter considers how both readings turned on the legal writer's underlying and usually unstated political convictions. The jurisprudential debate over the nature and scope of martial law thereby became another proxy war for the even more fundamental political and ideological conflicts of the era.

Keywords: Jamaica controversy; constitutional and political jurisprudence; W. F. Finlason; Frederic Harrison

Chapter.  35425 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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