Abraham Lincoln and Executive Power Print E-mail
We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution
Supplemental Lesson

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Court Cases

The following is a list of links to court cases mentioned in the Abraham Lincoln supplement and on this website. Links to these websites are provided for informational purposes only. The Center for Civic Education is in no way responsible for the content of these sites and their presence on this page should not be construed as an endorsement.

Ex parte Merryman, April 1861
John Merryman was arrested on May 25, 1861, for his association with the rebellion and for treason. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney's opinion in this Maryland Circuit Court case was a rebuke of President Lincoln for unconstitutionally suspending the writ of habeas corpus. Lincoln responded to Taney in his July 4, 1861, Message to Congress in Special Session.

Prize Cases, March 10, 1863
The Prize Cases dealt with the seizure of ships sailing to Confederate ports. The issue at stake was whether Lincoln had exceeded the powers of the presidency by ordering the seizures.

Ex parte Milligan, April 3, 1866
Ex parte Milligan dealt with the trial and conviction of a civilian, Lambdin Milligan, in a military court.

The Dred Scott Case

In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, declared that all blacks - slaves as well as free - were not and could never become citizens of the United States. The court also declared the 1820 Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, thus permiting slavery in all of the country's territories.
The case before the court was that of Dred Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott, a slave who had lived in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin before moving back to the slave state of Missouri, had appealed to the Supreme Court in hopes of being granted his freedom. Taney wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue.
The Dred Scott case was a primary focus of the celebrated series of debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in 1858.