Mississippi v. Johnson, 4 Wallace (71 U.S.) 475; 18 L. Ed. 437 (1867)

Mississippi v. Johnson, 4 Wallace (71 U.S.) 475; 18 L. Ed. 437 (1867)

Facts—This case involved a bill in equity by which the state of Mississippi sought to enjoin President Andrew Johnson and the general in command of the military district of Mississippi and Arkansas from enforcing the Reconstruction Acts of 1867.

Question—Can the judiciary issue an injunction to the president to forbid him from carrying into effect an act of Congress?


ReasonsC.J. Chase (9–0). The Congress is the legislative department of the government. The president is the executive department. Neither can be re- strained in its action by the judicial department, though the acts of both, when performed in proper cases, are subject to its cognizance. The impropriety of such interference, the Court held, could be clearly seen upon consideration of its possible consequences. If the injunction were granted, the Court would have no power to enforce it. If the president did not enforce the bill according to the wishes of this Court, he would be subject to impeachment by the Con- gress and the Court could not stop the proceedings. “It is true that a state may file an original bill in this Court. And it may be true, in some cases, that such a bill may be filed against the United States. But we are fully satisfied that this Court has no jurisdiction of a bill to enjoin the president in the performance of his official duties, and that no such bill ought to be received by us.”

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