Ex Parte Milligan
U.S. Supreme Court case that took place in 1866. It represented the first test of the President's power to authorize trials for civilians by military tribunal rather than through the system of civil courts.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus in situations where individuals were to be tried for acts of revolt against the military. Lambdin P. Milligan was arrested in Indiana by military authorities, tried for inciting rebellion and other acts which were deemed as treason. He was convicted and then sentenced to death, to be carried out by hanging on May 19, 1865.
When the sentence was approved by President Andrew Johnson, Milligan filed a writ of habeas corpus with the U.S. circuit court in Indiana. Milligan claimed that his constitutional right to a trial by jury had been violated.
The Supreme Court found that even thought the United States had been at war, no civilian could be tried by military tribunal as long as the civil courts were functioning. Milligan was released.