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Samuels v. Mackell
United States Supreme Court
401 U.S. 66 (1971)
George Samuels and Fred Fernandez (plaintiffs) were indicted in New York state court under a state criminal anarchy statute. Samuels and Fernandez then brought separate actions in federal district court against Queens County District Attorney Thomas Mackell (defendant), claiming that the anarchy statute was void for vagueness in violation of due process; violated their rights of free speech, press, and assembly under the First and Fourteenth Amendments; and was preempted by federal law. Samuels and Fernandez alleged that being tried for violating the anarchy statute would harass them and cause irreparable harm, and they asked the district court to enjoin the state-court proceedings. There was no evidence in the record supporting the irreparable-harm allegations. In the alternative, Samuels and Fernandez sought a declaratory judgment that the anarchy statute was unconstitutional and void. A three-judge panel of the district court found that the anarchy statute was constitutional and dismissed Samuels’s and Fernandez’s complaints. Samuels and Fernandez appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)
Concurrence (Brennan, J.)
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