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Ashcraft v. State of Tennessee

Significance, The Constitution Bars Coerced Confessions, Supervisory Power, Impact


Ashcraft, Ware


State of Tennessee

Petitioners' Claim

That the confessions used to convict the defendants were extorted from them by state law enforcement officers in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioners

James F. Bickers

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Nat Tipton

Justices for the Court

Hugo Lafayette Black (writing for the Court), William O. Douglas, Frank Murphy, Stanley Forman Reed, Wiley Blount Rutledge, Harlan Fiske Stone

Justices Dissenting

Felix Frankfurter, Robert H. Jackson, Owen Josephus Roberts


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

1 May 1944


Reversed Ashcraft's conviction and remanded the case to the Supreme Court of Tennessee because if Ashcraft made a confession, it was compelled in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Related Cases

  • Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937).
  • Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227 (1940).
  • Lisbena v. California, 314 U.S. 219 (1941).
  • McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943).
  • Ashcraft v. State of Tennessee, 327 U.S. 274 (1946).

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
  • Hall, Kermit L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States. New York: Oxford Press, 1992.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953