Court Explains Purpose Of Right To Be Informed

1876

In United States v. Cruikshank, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a 16-count indictment against people accused of violating the 1870 Civil Rights Act, a law designed to protect recently freed African Americans. The Court explains that the Sixth Amendment right to “be informed” has two purposes: (1) for the defendant to be able to defend himself or herself against specific charges and (2) for the court to know if there is enough evidence to convict the defendant. The Court says the charges in this case were not specific enough and, therefore, violated the Sixth Amendment. If not for this right, then anyone could be indicted on the basis of vague accusations.