Merryman, ex parte

Merryman, ex parte, case decided in 1861 by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney sitting as a federal circuit judge in Baltimore. John Merryman, a citizen of Maryland, was imprisoned by the U.S. army on suspicion of favoring the Confederacy. He obtained a writ of habeas corpus. The commanding general refused to respect this action, alleging that President Lincoln had authorized him to suspend the writ. Taney held that Article 1, Section 9, of the U.S. Constitution gave to Congress alone the power to suspend the writ in case of rebellion or invasion and that consequently the President's action had been without warrant and represented a threat to the liberties of all Americans. Lincoln, however, continued to adhere to the same practice throughout the Civil War. Congress ratified the suspension in 1863.

See H. S. Commager, ed., Documents of American History (8th ed. 1968).

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