United States v. Harris

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United States v. Harris
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
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 governments, not the 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

United States v. Harris, 106 U.S. 629 (1883), or the Ku Klux Kase, was a case in which the US Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to penalize crimes such as assault and murder in most circumstances. [1] The Court declared that only local governments have the power to penalize those 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 actions, not individuals' actions.

See also

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

Further reading