Samuels v. Mackell

401 U.S. 66 (1971)


Ps were indicted in a New York state court on charges of criminal anarchy, in violation of §§ 160, 161, 163, and 580 (1) of the New York Penal Law. Ps filed these actions in federal district court alleging (1) that the anarchy statute was void for vagueness in violation of due process, and an abridgment of free speech, press, and assembly, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) that the anarchy statute had been pre-empted by federal law; and (3) that the New York laws under which the grand jury had been drawn violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because they disqualified from jury service any member of the community who did not own real or personal property of the value of at least $250 and because the laws furnished no definite standards for determining how jurors were to be selected. Ps claimed that the trial of these indictments in state courts would harass them, and cause them to suffer irreparable damages. Ps sought an injunction or in the alternative a declaratory judgment to the effect that the challenged state laws were unconstitutional and void on the same grounds. A three-judge court convened pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 2284 held that the New York criminal anarchy law was constitutional and that Ps' complaints be dismissed. Ps appealed.