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Milligan, ex parte

Milligan, ex parte, case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1866. By authorization of Congress, President Lincoln in 1863 suspended the writ of habeas corpus in cases where military officers held persons for offenses against the armed services. Army authorities had arrested Lambdin Milligan, a civilian who was involved in Copperhead, or pro-Confederate, activities in Indiana, and in 1864 he was tried by a military commission, convicted of fomenting rebellion, and condemned to death. The Supreme Court did not deal directly with the question of habeas corpus but with the limitation of martial law. It held that civilians might be tried by a military tribunal only where civil courts could not function because of invasion or disorder. It decided that even though the United States was at war, the federal courts of Indiana were operating, and they alone might try the case.

See S. Klaus, ed., The Milligan Case (1929, repr. 1970); D. Kelley, Milligan's Fight Against Lincoln (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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