Rule: Article III, – 2, [T]he Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as of to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” In other words, Congress has the power to limit and regulate the appellate jurisdiction of this court.
Given that most cases arrive at eh Court by appeal, Congress’ control over the Court’s appellate jurisdiction creates the potential for abuse.
Ex parte McCardle (1868) p. 28
The Court confirmed that Congress does indeed have at least some power to control the boundaries of the Court’s appellate jurisdiction.
Facts: McCardle was imprisoned by a military government imposed by Congress as part of post-Civil War Reconstruction. He brought a habeas corpus action in Fed circuit court, charging that the Reconstruction Acts under which he was imprisoned were unconstitutional.
– Congress restricts appeal: Before a decision was handed down, Congress passed a law repealing the portion of the 1867 Act which allowed appeals to the Court. Thus Congress purported to deprive the Court of its right to decide the McCardle case and any other habeaus corpus(a writ employed to bring a person before a court, most frequently to ensure that the party’s imprisonment is not illegal) case coming to it by appeal from the circuit courts.
Issue: Does Congress have the power to repeal the appellate power of the Supreme Court? Yes.
The Court upheld Congress’ restriction of the Court’s jurisdiction. The decision that appellate jurisdiction is conferred “with such exceptions and under such regulations as Congress shall make.” The limitation enacted by Congress was such an exception. Therefore, the court concluded, it had no jurisdiction to decide the case.
– Limited Withdrawal: The statute involved in McCardle, Congress was not completely withdrawing the Court’s right to hear habeas corpus cases. Rather, it was withdrawing that right only where the Court got the case by appeal from the lower courts; under jurisdictional statutes of the time, an original petition for habeas corpus could be commenced in the Court itself.
– Limited significance- does not by any means stand for the proposition that Congress may strip the Fed courts in their entirety of the right to issue habeas corpus relief; such congressional action would probably be a violation of prisoner’s 14th Amend right to due process.
– Neutral-congressional statute operated in a neutral manner. Appeal to the Court is not allowed either to the govt or to a private party; thus in a future case, it might be the govt that suffers, which makes it less objectionable constitutionally
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