The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Milligan, Ex Parte
MILLIGAN, Ex Parte, a decision handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1866 holding a military commission to be without power in a State not invaded nor in rebellion, and where the usual civil courts, both Federal and State, were open; rendered by a barely sufficient majority, with Chief Justice Chase and Justices Wayne, Swayne and Miller dissenting, and Chief Justice Chase pronouncing a forcible protest. The case was that of one Lambdin P. Milligan, a United States citizen residing in Indiana, arrested by military authorities in 1864 on a charge of conspiracy, disloyal practices, inciting insurrection and aiding and comforting the enemy. He was found guilty by a military commission and sentenced to death. His counsel filed a writ of habeas corpus in the United States Circuit Court and the case eventually was carried to the Supreme Court, where the military commission was held to be without jurisdiction in his case. Chief Justice Chase asserted that the power of Congress “to authorize trials for crimes against the security and safety of the national forces, may be derived from its constitutional power to raise and support armies and to declare war”; and that while the civil courts “might be open and undisturbed in their functions . . . yet wholly incompetent to avert threatened danger, or to punish, with adequate promptitude and certainty, the guilty conspirators.” Consult ‘Wallace's Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States’ (Vol. IV, 1866).