Challenging the traditional view of Ex Parte Merryman
1864 case, Chief Justice Taney sitting as circuit judge (in those days Justices did double-duty as circuit judges). In the opening days of the Civil War, the movement of Union troops down to defend Washington led to fatal rioting in Baltimore, where troops had to shift trains and move between train stations to do so. Lincoln reacted by authorizing Union commanders to suspend the writ of habeas corpus (and thus to take and prisoners without being subject to judicial action). The governor ordered militia units to destroy railroad bridges, and Union troops arrested a militia lieutenant Merryman for his role in that, and took him to Fort McHenry, in Baltimore harbor.
A district judge issued a writ of habeas corpus, which the fort commander refused to honor. An appeal was taken to the Circuit, and CJ Taney issued a writ of attachment (!) for Lieutenant Merryman, but the US Marshal bearing it was denied entry into the fort. Taney then issued an opinion finding that the suspension of the writ was unconstitutional, and in particular that only Congress had the power to suspend.
The traditional view has been that Merryman marked Lincoln's defiance of the Court (although it never came to the Supreme Court) and inter arms enim silent leges -- in time of war, the law falls silent. But Seth Barrett Tillman, of the National University of Ireland, recently raised an alternate interpretation. Essentially, Lincoln cannot be said to have defied a court unless he disobeyed an order from it: an opinion is not an order, it is an explanation of or a predicate for an order. In Merryman Taney issued one order -- the writ of attachment -- and since his marshal never got into the fort, he had no chance to serve it on the fort commander. Taney was thus engaging in an exercise in futility, and knew it. He could have upped the ante -- e.g., ordered the marshal to arrest anyone who impeded his entry into the fort -- but wisely decided to fold his hand. In this interpretation, the case is not about Lincoln defying judicial authority, it is more about Taney backing down from a trial of strength.
UPDATE: I wonder if the major D.C. and Baltimore newspapers had anything to say about the confrontation, at the time when it was occurring. Absent that, Lincoln's knowledge of the affair might have been sparse. The fort commander would not have reported directly to him, and the commander's superiors would have been a bit busy there, as Lincoln himself was. A person could consult Lincoln's papers, but I suspect there wouldn't be much there.
I recall reading a history of the 2nd Michigan Infantry, which had to pass through Baltimore in this period. The head of the city police offered to give them a guard, and the commander replied that if they wished to be guides, it would be appreciated, but as far as guarding them, he'd already given the order to load with ball and buck.