United States Supreme Court
92 U.S. 542 (1876)
Under an 1870 federal
statute, the United States (plaintiff) successfully prosecuted William Cruikshank
and others (defendants) for conspiring to murder two African Americans, thereby
denying the victims all their
rights under the federal Constitution and statutes. Cruikshank moved
for an arrest of judgment, challenging the legal sufficiency of their
indictments. The United States Circuit Court for the District of Louisiana split
on the challenge and certified it for consideration by the United States
Supreme Court. In addition to finding that most of the indictments alleged
crimes that could be prosecuted only under state law and not by the United
States, the Court considered the specificity with which the indictments were
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Waite, C.J.)
Concurrence/Dissent (Clifford, J.)
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