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United States v. Cruikshank

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 drafted.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Waite, C.J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Clifford, J.)

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