United States v. Salerno

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United States v. Salerno
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued January 21, 1987
Decided May 26, 1987
Full case name United States v. Salerno
Citations 481 U.S. 739 (more)
107 S. Ct. 2095, 95 L. Ed. 2d 697, 1987 U.S. LEXIS 2259
Given the Bail Reform Act's legitimate and compelling regulatory purpose and the procedural protections thar it offers, 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e) is not facially invalid under the Due Process Clause or Excessive Bail Clause.
Court membership
Chief Justice
William Rehnquist
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall · Harry Blackmun
Lewis F. Powell Jr. · John P. Stevens
Sandra Day O'Connor · Antonin Scalia
Case opinions
Majority Rehnquist, joined by White, Blackmun, Powell, O'Connor, Scalia
Dissent Marshall, joined by Brennan
Dissent Stevens
Laws applied
Fifth Amendment, Eighth Amendment
Bail Reform Act of 1984

United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739 (1987), was a United States Supreme Court decision. It determined that the Bail Reform Act of 1984, which permitted the federal courts to detain an arrestee prior to trial if the government could prove that the individual was potentially dangerous to other people in the community, was constitutional. It violated neither the US Constitution's Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment nor its Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

The case was brought up when American Mafia member Anthony Salerno was arrested and indicted for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.


Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the opinion for the majority. Justice Marshall and Justice Stevens each wrote dissenting opinions.

Salerno is famous for expounding the "no set of circumstances" test. Challengers who bring a facial challenge to a statute claim the statute is 'void on its face' and should be declared unconstitutional. That is an extremely high burden, as the challenger must show that no set of circumstances exists under which the statute would be valid.

The Court, however, recognized the well-established overbreadth doctrine, which provides a different standard for facial challenges of laws alleged to violate the First Amendment.

See also[edit]


  • Goldkamp, John S. (1985). "Danger and Detention: A Second Generation of Bail Reform". Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Northwestern University. 76 (1): 1–74. doi:10.2307/1143353. JSTOR 1143353. 
  • Eason, Michael J. (1988). "Eighth Amendment: Pretrial Detention: What Will Become of the Innocent?". Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Northwestern University. 78 (4): 1048–1079. doi:10.2307/1143417. JSTOR 1143417. 
  • Howard, John B., Jr. (1989). "The Trial of Pretrial Dangerousness: Preventive Detention after United States v. Salerno". Virginia Law Review. Virginia Law Review. 75 (3): 639–679. doi:10.2307/1073254. JSTOR 1073254.