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The Prize Cases

67 U.S. 635 (1863)

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The Prize Cases

United States Supreme Court

67 U.S. 635 (1863)

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Facts

While Congress was not in session at the beginning of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued an executive order commanding a blockade of Confederate state ports, based on law of nations authority. The order stated that if a vessel approached or attempted to leave the blockaded states, it would get a warning, and if it tried to do so again, it would be captured as a prize. Later, in 1861, Congress enacted a statute authorizing a naval blockade of Confederate state ports. Owners of vessels that were captured as prizes during the blockade (plaintiffs) brought an action challenging the executive order’s legality.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Grier, J.)

Dissent (Nelson, J.)

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