United States v. Williams
341 U.S. 70 (1951)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Williams, 341 U.S. 70 (1951)

United States v. Williams

No. 26

Argued January 8, 1951

341 U.S. 70

Syllabus

After one of the respondents had been convicted and the others acquitted of substantive offenses under what is now 18 U.S.C. § 242 -- i.e., beating or aiding and abetting the beating of certain suspects until they confessed to a theft -- they were convicted in the Federal District Court for a violation of what is now 18 U.S. C. § 241. The indictment arose out of the same facts, and alleged that, "acting under the laws of . . . Florida," they

"conspired to injure the free exercise and enjoyment of the rights and privileges secured to him and protected by the Fourteenth Amendment."

The Court of Appeals reversed their conviction on this conspiracy indictment.

Held: the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed. P. 341 U. S. 82.

(a) MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE JACKSON and MR. JUSTICE MINTON, was of the opinion that § 241 only covers conduct which interferes with rights arising from the substantive powers of the Federal Government, and that including an allegation that the defendants acted under color of state law in an indictment under § 241 does not extend the protection of the section to rights which the Federal Constitution merely guarantees against abridgment by the States. Pp. 341 U. S. 71-82.

(b) MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurred in the result on the ground that trial under this conspiracy indictment was barred by the principle of res judicata. Pp. 341 U. S. 86-86.

179 F.2d 644 affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, joined by MR. JUSTICE REED, MR. JUSTICE BURTON, and MR. JUSTICE CLARK, dissented. P. 341 U. S. 87.

A conviction of respondents for violation of what is now 18 U.S.C. § 241 was reversed by the Court of Appeals. 179 F.2d 644. This Court granted certiorari. 340 U.S. 849. Affirmed, p. 341 U. S. 82.

Page 341 U. S. 71

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