ex parte Merryman
Merryman, Ex Parte
[See also Civil‐Military Relations: Civilian Control of the Military; Commander in Chief, President as; Habeas Corpus Act (1863); Martial Law; Milligan, Ex Parte.]
Mary J. Farmer
Ex Parte Merryman
EX PARTE MERRYMAN,
EX PARTE MERRYMAN, Federal Cases No. 9487 (1861), involved President Abraham Lincoln's exercise of extraordinary war powers, specifically his right to suspend habeas corpus. John Merryman, a Baltimore County secessionist, was imprisoned in Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor by military order on 25 May 1861. The commanding officer refused to comply with a writ of habeas corpus issued by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, on the grounds that he had been authorized by the president to suspend the writ. Taney wrote an opinion, widely denounced in the North, that the writ could be suspended constitutionally only by Congress, not by the president. Lincoln did not alter his policy.
Swisher, Carl Brent. Roger B. Taney. New York: Macmillan, 1935.
Warren, Charles. The Supreme Court in United States History. Boston: Little, Brown, 1924. Rev. ed. Littleton, Colo.: F. B. Rothman, 1987.
See alsoHabeas Corpus, Writ of .
Merryman, ex parte
ex parte Merryman, 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).