Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
Ex Parte McCardle
During the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, Congress created a military government under which McCardle was imprisoned. McCardle, who was an editor, was charged with libel and placed in military custody. McCardle alleged unlawful restraint by military force. He sought a writ of habeas corpus in the circuit court for the Southern District of Mississippi. When the circuit court rejected the claim, McCardle appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Congressional statute enacted in 1867 authorized the appeal to the Supreme Court and also authorized the grant of habeas corpus by federal circuit courts. Fearful the Supreme Court would rule the statute of 1867 unconstitutional; Congress passed another statute in March of 1868, repealing the portion of the 1867 statute allowing appeals to the Supreme Court in habeas corpus proceedings originating in the lower federal courts. Congress repealed this section before the Supreme Court reached a decision, but after it heard arguments in this case.
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