The Vinson Court (1946–53)


In what famous capital case involving alleged spies did the Vinson Court deny relief?

The Vinson Court refused to stay the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in Rosenberg v. United States (1953) by a 6–3 vote. The Rosenbergs allegedly violated the Espionage Act of 1917 by providing military secrets, including some related to the atomic bomb, to the Soviet Union. Justice William O. Douglas had granted a stay of execution but the full Court reversed Douglas’s ruling two days later. The Rosenbergs were executed on the day of the decision. The case is still considered controversial because some believe the Rosenbergs were not guilty of a capital crime.


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