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Bute v. Illinois

Minority Opinion

The dissenting justices questioned the logic of Illinois court criminal procedure. Justice Douglas voiced the opinion of dissenting justices that if Bute's trial had been held in a federal court, it would have been mandatory to appoint counsel for him even if he did not ask for an attorney. Believing that the constitutional standards of fairness did not depend on what court conducted a trial, Justice Douglas opined that "the Bill of Rights was applicable to all courts at all times." Further, he reasoned, the main purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to further safeguard basic provisions contained in the Bill of Rights, specifically protection against infringement of personal rights whether that be at federal or state level. Thus, minority justices failed to see how an accused defendant could be denied counsel in the Illinois state court if, according to the U.S. Constitution, that benefit could not been taken away from him in a federal court.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1941 to 1953Bute v. Illinois - Significance, Minority Opinion, Impact, Self Representation