The Waite Court (1874–88)

Racial Discrimination/civil Rights

The Waite Court convicted a man of violating federal law designed to ensure voting rights in what decision?

The Waite Court unanimously ruled in Ex Parte Yarbrough (1884)—often called the Ku Klux Klan cases—that Jasper Yarbrough and other Ku Klux Klan members could be convicted of violating federal law when they beat and wounded Barry Saunders, an African American, to keep him from voting in a federal election.

The Court, in unusually strong language, affirmed Congress’s power to pass laws designed to ensure voting in federal elections. “If this government is anything more than a mere aggregation of delegated agents of other states and governments, each of which is superior to the general government, it must have the power to protect the elections on which its existence depends, from violence and corruption,” wrote Justice Samuel Miller. “If it has not this power, it is left helpless before the two great natural and historical enemies of all republics, open violence and insidious corruption.”


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