Hamm v. City of Rock Hill,
379 U.S. 306 (1964)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hamm v. City of Rock Hill, 379 U.S. 306 (1964)

Hamm v. City of Rock Hill

No. 2

Argued October 12, 1964

Decided December 14, 1964*

379 U.S. 306


The petitioners, who are Negroes, were convicted for violations of state trespass statutes for participating in "sit-ins" at lunch counters of retail stores. It was conceded that the lunch counter operations would probably come within the coverage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was passed subsequent to the convictions and the affirmances thereof in the state courts.


1. The Act creates federal statutory rights which, under the Supremacy Clause, must prevail over any conflicting state laws. Pp. 379 U. S. 310-312.

2. These convictions, being on direct review at the time the Act made the conduct no longer unlawful, must abate. Pp. 379 U. S. 312-317.

(a) Had these been federal convictions, they would have abated, Congress presumably having intended to avoid punishment no longer furthering a legislative purpose, and the general federal saving statute being applicable to a statute like this which substitutes a right for what was previously criminal. Pp. 379 U. S. 312-314.

(b) Though these were state convictions, their abatement is likewise required not only under the Supremacy Clause, and because the pending convictions are contrary to the legislative purpose of the Act, but also because abatement is a necessary part of every statute which repeals criminal legislation. Pp. 379 U. S. 314-317.

241 S.C. 420, 128 S.E.2d 907; 236 Ark. 596, 367 S.W.2d 750, judgments vacated and charges ordered dismissed.

Page 379 U. S. 307

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