United States v. Harris

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This article is about the "Ku Klux Case". For the lobbying regulation case, see United States v. Harriss.
United States v. Harris
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Decided January 22, 1883
Full case name United States v. R. G. Harris, et al.
Citations 106 U.S. 629 (more)
Local, not federal government, has the power to penalize crimes such as assault and murder.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Woods

United States v. Harris, 106 U.S. 629 (1883),[1] sometimes referred to as 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. It declared that the local governments have the power to penalize these crimes.

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 also[edit]


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

Further reading[edit]

  • Divine, Robert A.; et al. (2005). The American Story. New York: Pearson Education. p. 413. ISBN 0-321-18313-4. 
  • Lawrence, Frederick M. (1993). "Civil rights and criminal wrongs: The mens rea of Federal civil rights crimes". Tulane Law Review 67: 2113–2229. 

External links[edit]