The Taft Court (1921–30)

Criminal Justice and Procedure

In what prohibition case did the Taft Court refuse to find a double jeopardy violation?

The Taft Court unanimously ruled in United States v. Lanza (1922) that bootlegger Vito Lanza could be prosecuted for violation of the National Prohibition Act (called the Volstead Act) even though he had also been prosecuted for violating a similar Washington state law. Lanza had argued that a subsequent federal prosecution amounted to a double jeopardy violation under the Fifth Amendment. The Taft Court disagreed, writing that an “act denounced as a crime by both national and state sovereignties is an offense against the peace and dignity of both and may be punished by each.” The Court reasoned that if Congress wanted to bar such subsequent federal prosecutions, it could do so by statute.


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