United States v. Harris

United States v. Harris, 106 U.S. 629 (1883), or the Ku Klux Case, was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to penalize crimes such as assault and murder.[1] It declared that the local governments have the power to penalize these crimes.

United States v. Harris
Seal of the United States Supreme Court
Decided January 22, 1883
Full case nameUnited States v. R. G. Harris, et al.
Citations106 U.S. 629 (more)
1 S. Ct. 601; 27 L. Ed. 290; 1882 U.S. LEXIS 1595
Local, not federal government, has the power to penalize crimes such as assault and murder.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Morrison Waite
Associate Justices
Samuel F. Miller · Stephen J. Field
Joseph P. Bradley · John M. Harlan
William B. Woods · Stanley Matthews
Horace Gray · Samuel Blatchford
Case opinion
MajorityWoods, joined by unanimous
Laws applied
U.S. Const. Amend. XIV
Section 2 of the Third Enforcement Act

In the specific case, four men were removed from a Crockett County, Tennessee jail by a group led by Sheriff R. G. Harris and 19 others. The four men were beaten and one was killed. A deputy sheriff tried to prevent the act, but failed. Section 2 of the Force Act of 1871 was declared unconstitutional on the theory that an Act to enforce the Equal Protection Clause applied only to state action, not to state inaction.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ United States v. Harris, 106 U.S. 629 (1883).

Further readingEdit

  • Divine, Robert A.; et al. (2005). The American Story. New York: Pearson Education. p. 413. ISBN 978-0-321-18313-2.
  • Lawrence, Frederick M. (1993). "Civil rights and criminal wrongs: The mens rea of Federal civil rights crimes". Tulane Law Review. 67: 2113–2229.

External linksEdit