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MINNESOTA V. BRUNDAGE, 180 U. S. 499 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Minnesota v. Brundage, 180 U.S. 499 (1901)

Minnesota v. Brundage

No. 159

Argued February 28, 1901

Decided March 18, 1901

180 U.S. 499


The principle reaffirmed that, when the petitioner is in custody by state authority for an act done or omitted to be done in pursuance of a law of the United States or of an order, process or decree of a court or judge thereof, or where, being a subject or citizen of a foreign state, and domiciled therein, he is in custody under like authority for an act done or omitted under an alleged right, title, authority, privilege, protection or exemption claimed under the commission, or order, or sanction of any foreign state, or under color thereof, the validity and effect whereof depend upon the law of nations; in such and like cases of urgency involving the authority and operations of the general government or the obligations of this country to, or its relations with, foreign nations, the courts of the United States have frequently interposed by writs of habeas corpus and discharged prisoners who were held in custody under state authority; so, also, when they are in the custody of a state officer, it may be necessary, by use of the writ, to bring them into a court of the United States to testify as witnesses.

But the power of the federal court upon habeas corpus to discharge one held in custody by state officers or tribunals in violation of the Constitution of the United States ought not to be exercised in every case immediately upon application's being made for the writ. Except in cases of emergency such as are above defined, the applicant should be required to exhaust such remedies as the state gives to test the question of the legality, under the Constitution of the United States, of his detention in custody.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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