You are here

Ableman v. Booth

March 7, 1859

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin issued a writ of habeas corpus for the release of Sherman Booth, who had been convicted in U.S. district court of aiding the escape of a fugitive slave in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The United States appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed the judgment of the state court. Emphasizing that the Constitution made federal law the supreme law of the land, the Court held that state courts lacked the authority to issue writs of habeas corpus in cases where prisoners were in federal custody. The ruling established that a federal court judgment in a criminal case was not subject to review by a state court.

Learn more about this case