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Ex Parte McCardle

Citation. 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506 (1869)

Brief Fact Summary.

Congress repealed a law that granted the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction over habeas corpus cases.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Congress can repeal jurisdiction it grants to the Supreme Court.

Facts.

In 1867, Congress passed an act providing federal courts with the power to grant writs of habeas corpus in cases where individuals may be denied liberty in violation of the Constitution or other federal laws. In 1868, Congress passed an act repealing the part of the 1867 act that gave the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction in habeas corpus cases.

Issue.

Did Congress have the authority to revoke jurisdiction it granted to the Supreme Court in the 1867 act?

Held.

Yes, Congress had the authority to revoke jurisdiction it granted to the Supreme Court in the 1867 act.

Discussion.

According to the Court, the Supreme Court derives its appellate jurisdiction from the Constitution, but Congress can make exceptions to the Court’s jurisdiction. The Court held that Congress’ repeal of the 1867 act, which affirmed the Court’s appellate jurisdiction in habeas corpus cases, was a revocation of that jurisdiction. However, the Court maintained that it was not a revocation of the Supreme Court’s whole appellate power in habeas corpus cases. It was only a revocation of jurisdiction over appeals from Circuit Courts under the act of 1867.


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