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Ex Parte Milligan

United States Supreme Court
71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2 (1866)


Facts

In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, Congress passed a statute authorizing President Lincoln to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, conditioned on certain limitations. President Lincoln did so in September of that same year. The statute mandated that a list of the names of U.S. citizens held as prisoners must be given by the Secretaries of State and War to the circuit and district court judges, and if a grand jury did not return an indictment against a particular prisoner, that prisoner was to be brought before a judge for a decision of discharge or further action. Lambdin P. Milligan (defendant), an Indiana resident, was arrested in October 1864 by order of the commander of the military district of Indiana and imprisoned. Milligan was brought before a military tribunal, found guilty of various charges of conspiracy against the government, and sentenced to be hanged. On January 2, 1865, the United States Circuit Court for Indiana empanelled a grand jury, which did not return an indictment against Milligan. Milligan then petitioned the court for release, citing the 1863 statute and arguing that the military tribunal had no jurisdiction to try him.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Davis, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (Chase, C.J.)

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