Today in Labor History: Court rules workers can be imprisoned without charge

On this day in 1909, the Supreme Court ruled that U.S. citizens could be imprisoned without probable cause and denied their right to habeas corpus during a time of “insurrection.”

This could be done by governors and the National Guard, so long as they were acting in “good faith.”

The ruling came after a dispute in the long “Colorado Labor Wars,” an ongoing series of labor disputes between miners and mine owners from 1903 to 1904. In Colorado City in 1903, all was quiet, but the state and mine owners lied, saying riots were taking place. The Colorado militia was called in and workers there and in other cities were held by the militia for weeks in bullpens.

Both the actions of the mine owners and the ruling of the court helped to radicalize the labor movement. This helped to lead to the formation of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Photo via Wikipedia.



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