The Taney Court (1836–64)


In what famous case did the Court narrowly uphold the president’s power to order a blockade?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in The Prize Cases (1863) that President Lincoln had the constitutional authority to block Confederate ports even though Congress had not yet made a formal declaration of war. Lincoln issued the order in April 1861 after the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, South Carolina—thereby beginning the Civil War—but before Congress ratified all of Lincoln’s war-related activities in August.


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