Ex parte (Judges decision not requiring all parties to be
Df - McCardle
was a newspaper publisher in the post-civil war south.
He was arrested for under charges of libel; distributing the
peace; inciting insurrection, disorder, and violence; and
5th Argument Argument
McCardle argued that the Reconcstruction Acts were an
unconstitutional violation of his rights under the 5th Amendment
because he wasn't a member of the military and
shouldn't be tried in a military court.
Brought Habeas Corpus
McCardle brought a habeas corpus act under an Act of Congress of
1867 which authorized the federal courts to grant habeus corpus
to anyone restrained in violation of the Constitution, and
gave the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction over such actions.
Congress feared that the case would be vehicle for invalidating
the reconstruction plan.
Repealed Habeas Corpus
So, before the case was ruled upon, Congress there enacted a
statute that repealed the provision of the 1867 habeas corpus
act that McCardle invoked.
Habeas Corpus gave the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction to
hear cases where a person seeks relief from unlawful detention.
Article III, Section Supreme Courts Appellate Jurisdiction
The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is derived from
Article III, Section 2 of the constitution, not from acts of
Exception Congress shall make to appellate jurisdiction
It is true that the appellate jurisdiction is granted by the
constitution, but in the same article, it is made expressly
subject to such exceptions
and under such regulations as Congress shall make.
Thus, Congress has the power
to expand and limit the scope of the appellate jurisdiction
of the Supreme Court.
Congress was acting clearly within its power in both granting
and then repealing the specific jurisdiction to review habeas
corpus cases from the Circuit Courts pursuant to the Act of
The Act of 1868 does not affect the appellate jurisdiction with
regard to any other cases.
What does it mean to repeal an act
In this case, the repeal of the act necessarily removed
Without jurisdiction, the Court cannot proceed; the only thing
it can do is announce that fact and dismiss the cause of action.
When a legislative act is repealed, it is as if it had never
existed except in transactions past and closed.
Thus, no judgment can be rendered in a suit after repeal of the
act under which it was brought.
Dismissed for want of jurisdiction.