Ex Parte Milligan


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Milligan, ex parte,

case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1866. By authorization of Congress, President Lincoln in 1863 suspended the writ of habeas corpushabeas corpus
[Lat.,=you should have the body], writ directed by a judge to some person who is detaining another, commanding him to bring the body of the person in his custody at a specified time to a specified place for a specified purpose.
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 in cases where military officers held persons for offenses against the armed services. Army authorities had arrested Lambdin Milligan, a civilian who was involved in Copperhead, or pro-Confederate, activities in Indiana, and in 1864 he was tried by a military commission, convicted of fomenting rebellion, and condemned to death. The Supreme Court did not deal directly with the question of habeas corpus but with the limitation of martial law. It held that civilians might be tried by a military tribunal only where civil courts could not function because of invasion or disorder. It decided that even though the United States was at war, the federal courts of Indiana were operating, and they alone might try the case.

Bibliography

See S. Klaus, ed., The Milligan Case (1929, repr. 1970); D. Kelley, Milligan's Fight Against Lincoln (1973).

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Despite the Supreme Court's strongly worded denunciation of military commissions, the scope of the Court's ruling in Ex parte Milligan was surprisingly limited.
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Taney remained vocal in his opposition to Lincoln's exercise of emergency power, and he extracted a measure of revenge (the case was decided after Lincoln's assassination) in Ex Parte Milligan.
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Stoking that fury was the Ex parte Milligan Supreme Court decision of 1866.
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