What do the legal struggles of the founder of Mormonism have in common with the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay? Both involve the use of habeas corpus.
A trio of historical events around the state will discuss the three habeas corpus hearings of Joseph Smith during his time in Illinois in the 1840s. Those hearings were a result of the Mormon leader’s time in Missouri.
“He was involved in three extradition attempts,” said John Lupton of the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission. “He was arrested each time, and he sued for a writ of habeas corpus to free himself.”
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Lupton says, simply defined, habeas corpus is a protection against false imprisonment. That’s the common thread between Smith and those held at Guantanamo Bay.
“We want to learn from history,” Lupton said. “The larger issue is protecting minority rights.”
The first event will be held in Nauvoo on Monday (Sept. 23), featuring tours of the historic Mormon sites, and an evening presentation on Joseph Smith by Dalin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of Twelve in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The second event will take place in Springfield at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on Tuesday (Sept. 24), where Smith’s hearings will re-created. A repeat of that presentation will take place on Oct. 14 at the University of Chicago.
Tickets to the Springfield and Nauvoo events are sold out, but live video feeds will be set up to accommodate those wishing to attend. More information: http://www.illinoiscourthistory.org/.