Cardinale v. Louisiana,
394 U.S. 437 (1969)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cardinale v. Louisiana, 394 U.S. 437 (1969)

Cardinale v. Louisiana

No. 76

Argued February 24, 1969

Decided April 1, 1969

394 U.S. 437


Since petitioner's contention that a Louisiana statute requiring that confessions be admitted into evidence in their entirety notwithstanding their inclusion of irrelevant and prejudicial material is unconstitutional -- the sole federal question argued in this Court -- was not raised, preserved, or passed on in the state courts, the writ of certiorari is dismissed for want of jurisdiction, as this Court will not decide federal questions raised here for the first time on review of state court decisions. Pp. 394 U. S. 438-439.

251 La. 827, 206 So.2d 510, certiorari dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Primary Holding

A state court must address and resolve any federal constitutional issues before a federal court can intervene in the matter.


Louisiana law required that confessions by defendants should be heard in their entirety. Cardinale's confession to a brutal murder was used in its entirety to convict him, and the Louisiana Supreme Court affirmed the conviction. Cardinale did not raise a federal question at trial, but he later sought a federal review of the murder conviction on the basis that sections of the confession were prejudicial and irrelevant.



  • Byron Raymond White (Author)
  • Earl Warren
  • John Marshall Harlan II
  • William Joseph Brennan, Jr.
  • Potter Stewart
  • Thurgood Marshall

State courts should have an opportunity to review their own laws and interpret them in an effort to reconcile them with any potential constitutional conflicts. Failing to raise a constitutional challenge in the lower court results in an unclear record. Federal courts may not review the issue because the defendant failed to raise the constitutional issue in the state court.


  • Hugo Lafayette Black (Author)
  • William Orville Douglas
  • Abe Fortas

The lower court erred in granting the writ, so it was properly dismissed.

Case Commentary

There is a difference between a novel claim, which cannot be made at the appellate level, and a new argument, which can be. The Supreme Court also has the power to review the issue of whether a party actually presented a federal question at the state level.

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