The Waite Court (1874–88)

Miscellaneous Decisions

What Waite Court decision affirmed convictions for several Baltimore election judges?

The Waite Court ruled 6–2 in Ex Parte Siebold (1880) that five Baltimore election judges—Albert Siebold, Walter Tucker, Martin C. Burns, Lewis Coleman, and Henry Bowers—could be punished for violation of federal election law for allegedly stuffing ballot boxes during a federal election.

The state officials contended that their convictions should be reversed because the federal law invaded the province of the states, as the elections dealt with state regulations. The Court, in an opinion written by the chief justice, determined that when there is “concurrent authority” of federal and state governments, the federal government has jurisdiction. Waite wrote that it is “almost absurd” to suggest that the federal government doesn’t have control over regulations of federal elections.


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