Ex parte Milligan

From dKosopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Ex parte Milligan (1866) held that the Constitution applies at all times.

Contents

History and Appeals

Milligan is one of the strongest pro-individual cases regarding the rights of people during wartime. Notably, it was decided after the Civil War was over. It involved a man who had been detained by officials in administration of President Abraham Lincoln without being given access to the Courts through a petition for Habeas Corpus despite the fact that the Courts were functioning where the detention was made. Lincoln supported his actions on the grounds that as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces during a time of war he had the power to detain people at will. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Selected excerpts:

“No graver question was ever considered by this court, nor one which more nearly concerns the rights of the whole [71 U.S. 2, 119] people; for it is the birthright of every American citizen when charged with crime, to be tried and punished according to law. The power of punishment is, alone through the means which the laws have provided for that purpose, and if they are ineffectual, there is an immunity from punishment, no matter how great an offender the individual may be, or how much his crimes may have shocked the sense of justice of the country, or endangered its safety. 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.
The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, [71 U.S. 2, 121] and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false; for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it, which are necessary to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.”[1]

The Broader Implications of Ex parte Milligan

  • James B. Staab, "`With the Stroke of a Pen': President Bush Cannot Unilaterally Establish Military Commissions", Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies: Papers from the March 2003 Counter-Terrorism & Civil Liberties Conference, Central Missouri State University, 3, pp. 53-65 [as numbered]. ISSN 1-538-7909. [2]

Bibliography

Opinions

External link

Return to Key Court Decisions

Personal tools