Milligan, Ex Parte

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Milligan, Ex Parte

An 1866 Supreme Court decision, Milligan ex parte, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 18 L.Ed. 281, recognized that a civilian and citizen of a state that is not invaded by hostile forces during wartime is not subject to the jurisdiction of a Court-Martial.

In 1864, Lambdin P. Milligan, a civilian, was arrested in Indiana for conspiracy, insurrection, and other crimes arising from his alleged involvement in organizing a secret military unit in the state to assist the Confederacy. His arrest and detention were made pursuant to the orders of General Alvin P. Hovey, commander of the military district of Indiana. He was brought to trial before a military commission in Indianapolis, convicted, and sentenced to death. Milligan applied for a writ of Habeas Corpus to the Supreme Court, challenging the jurisdiction of the military commission to try and sentence him.

The Court acknowledged that Article III, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution—which provides "that the trial of all crimes, except in cases of Impeachment, shall be by jury"—and other constitutional provisions safeguarded this right. It recognized, however, that in times of war, various civil liberties and the right to challenge illegal detention by a writ of habeas corpus may be suspended. Martial Law might be imposed, however, only where an actual invasion of enemy forces effectively stopped the operation of the civil government.

The military argued that the designation of Indiana as a military district with a commander because of the constant threat of invasion by Confederate troops justified the imposition of martial law. The military commission, therefore, had lawful jurisdiction under the "laws and usages of war." The Court rejected this argument. The state of Indiana had not opposed federal authority, its civil and criminal courts continued to operate during the war, and Milligan was a civilian who was not connected to the military. Although civil liberties and habeas corpus could be suspended in wartime, to permit the military commission to determine the fate of Milligan, a civilian, in a state which was loyal to the Union, and where there was only a mere threat of invasion and the courts were open, would usurp the powers of the courts in violation of the Constitution. The Court decided that the military commission had no jurisdiction over Milligan and therefore ordered Milligan's release.

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Some might argue that the Supreme Court resolved this debate in 1866 when it decided Ex parte Milligan.
Supreme Court also denied in Ex Parte Milligan that a President had the constitutional authority to create a military commission and usurp Congress' power to create courts at a time when ordinary courts were holding trials: "By the protection of the law human rights are secured; withdraw that protection, and they are at the mercy of wicked rulers, or the clamor of an excited people.
If they deal with legal issues at all, most Lincoln biographies and general histories of the Civil War era focus on the president's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and the resulting litigation in Ex parte Merryman, Ex parte Vallandigham, and Ex parte Milligan.
39) They framed the requirement this way to avoid the Quirin and Hamdi precedents, which did not involve residents of the United States, while at the same time going beyond the famous Civil War-era decision Ex parte Milligan, (40) which, while limiting the military's detention and trial authority, involved only U.
In order to assess the lawfulness of their detentions, it also analyzes the legal precedents the Bush administration cited in support of their detention; Ex parte Milligan, the 1866 Supreme Court case concerning the inadmissibility of suspending habeas corpus where civil courts are still in operation; and the legislative history of Congress's authorization of force in the "War on Terror.
1861) (civilian "prisoner of state"); Exparte Vallandigham, 68 US 243 (1863) (civilian); Ex Parte Milligan, 71 US 2 (1866) (civilian); Ex Parte Quirin, 317 US 1 (1942) (German "enemy combatants"); Application of Yamashita, 327 US 1 (1946) ("enemy combatant"); Johnson v.
O'Connor noted a Lincoln-era precedent, Ex parte Milligan, that declared unconstitutional the president's suspension of habeas corpus and the continued detention of an Indiana resident, Lamdin P.
Neither Ex parte Milligan (1866) nor Ex parte McCardle (1867)--the best known judicial responses to domestic martial law under President Lincoln--proved to be fruitful,(13) but Ex parte Yerger (1868) seemed more promising.
38) In McGinty's view, Ex parte Milligan "stands for the proposition that partisan loyalties will not trump important constitutional principles.
The Supreme Court finally issued a clear ruling on military commissions in the case of Ex Parte Milligan in 1866, which was a full-blown rebuke of the pretended authority of the President to deny Americans a trial by jury during a time of conflict.
The author covers Abraham Lincoln's actions during the American Civil War and the landmark cases Ex parte Merryman (1861) and Ex parte Milligan (1866).