Presidential power and executive action
Slides showing the Supreme Court ruling in the Merryman case, and the response of President Lincoln
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Presidential power and executive action
Presidential Power and Executive Action
To restore order, Lincoln authorizedGeneral Chief Scott to arrest hundreds ofMaryland citizens because they weresuspected of participating in the rebellion.This included militia officer John Merryman,who was charged with directing acts ofsabotage as well as recruiting and trainingConfederate sympathizers.Merryman’s lawyer petitions for a writ ofhabeas corpus, requiring this military arrestto be justified in a civilian court. On May 26, federal circuit judge, Chief Justice Roger B.Taney, (who was also from Maryland)issued a writ, arguing that the power tosuspend civil liberties belongs to Congress,not the president.
Should the President follow the orders of the court? President Lincoln ignored Taney’s order and waited for events to justify my actions. He believed his primary duty as president was to suppress the rebellion so that the laws of the United States could be enforced in the South. Suspension of the writ was avital weapon against rebellion. Congress later passed theHabeas Corpus Act, endorsing the president’s actions.