Officially he was for "quashing" the indictments on the reasoning that the "new" Constitution, with its 14th Amendment, restricted punishment to men of Jefferson Davis' class to disallow them from running for public office ONLY. No death penalty, no prison term, no exile.
"On Saturday morning, December 5th, the Chief Justice announced that the court had failed to agree upon a decision in regard to the motion made to quash the indictments against Mr. Jefferson Davis.
The counsel for the defendant then asked that the fact of the disagreement be certified to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Court signified its acquiescence, and thereupon the following paper was entered upon the record :
'At this term of the court, begun and held at Richmond, in the said district, on the 23d day of November, 1868, and continued until this day, a motion was made on behalf on the defendant to quash or set aside the said indictment, and to dismiss the same and the prosecution thereof.'
'And upon that motion it appeared that the said Jefferson Davis, having previously to the offenses charged in the said indictment taken an oath as a member of Congress to support the Constitution of the United States, the question arose whether, by the operation and effect of the third clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the defendant is exempted from indictment or prosecution for treason in levying war and participating or engaging in the late rebellion. And upon that question the opinions of the judges were opposed. And thereupon the said point is upon the request of the said defendant, stated under the direction of the said judges, and certified under the seal of the said Circuit Court to the Supreme Court of the United States at its next session.'
'The Chief Justice instructed the reporter to record him as having been of opinion on the disagreement, that the indictment should be quashed, and all further proceedings barred by the effect of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States."
[Reports of cases DECIDED BY CHIEF JUSTICE CHASE Circuit Court Of The United States FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT, DURING THE YEARS 1865 TO 1869, BOTH INCLUSIVE, IN THE DISTRICTS OF MARYLAND, VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, AND SOUTH CAROLINA. REVISED AND CORRECTED HY THE CHIEF JUSTICE. 1876]