Piracy and Due Process

This article explores in depth the law of nations, English domestic law, and English government practice from the late medieval period through the eighteenth century, and the U.S. constitutional law and government practice during the Founding and antebellum periods. I conclude that Chapman’s claims about due process and piracy suppression are incorrect. Both Parliament and the U.S. Congress; both the Crown and its counselors and U.S Presidents and their advisers; both the Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy; and commentators both English and American believed that (1) pirates on the high seas could lawfully be subject to extrajudicial killing, but that (2) the criminal justice system was usually the preferred approach to dealing with pirates, and when tried for their crimes in English or American territory respectively, accused pirates were entitled to due process of law.