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Ex Parte McCardle

United States Supreme Court
74 U.S. 506 (1869)



William McCardle (defendant), a newspaper editor in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was arrested by federal government officials after he wrote a series of newspaper articles that were highly critical of the post-Civil War Reconstruction and resulting military rule of the South. The federal government justified McCardle’s arrest on the ground that he violated several provisions of the Reconstruction Acts. McCardle sought a writ of habeas corpus from a federal court in Mississippi, but was ultimately unsuccessful in challenging his arrest. McCardle then sought appellate review of his habeas corpus petition in the United States Supreme Court, relying on an 1867 congressional statute that permitted the Supreme Court to have appellate jurisdiction over such matters. However, while the case was pending in the Supreme Court, Congress passed a new law repealing the part of the 1867 statute that permitted Supreme Court appellate review of writs of habeas corpus. President Andrew Johnson vetoed this legislation, but Congress immediately overrode his veto and reinstated its repeal of the 1867 statute.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Chase, C.J.)

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