Brief Fact Summary. McCardle was held in military custody for trial before a military commission. A statute in force provided that judicial courts of the United States had the power to grant writs of habeas corpus. The statute also stated that a person could appeal to the circuit court, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court. This statute was later repealed.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The appellate jurisdiction of the U. S. Supreme Court is not derived from Congressional acts, but instead is conferred by the Constitution. However, it is conferred with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress shall make.
And this is not less clear upon authority than upon principle.View Full Point of Law
Issue. How much power does Congress have to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?
Held. The Supreme Court reviewed Article III, Section: 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that the Supreme Court shall have, “appellate Jurisdiction both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” The Supreme Court interpreted this section to mean Congress had the power to determine the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction and upheld the restriction on its jurisdiction in this case.
Discussion. The Constitution gives Congress the power to both create the lower federal courts and determine their jurisdiction. By repealing a portion of the 1867 statute, Congress only limited the Supreme Court’s right to hear a habeas corpus proceeding brought on appeal from a lower federal court. The decision did not affect the Supreme Court’s right to hear a habeas corpus proceeding brought initially in the Supreme Court. Additionally, Congress applied the restriction in the statute of 1868 equally so that neither McCardle nor the governmental entity could bring a habeas corpus proceeding to the Court on app