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Cummings v. Missouri


CUMMINGS V. MISSOURI, 4 Wallace 277 (1866). Acting against the interests of congressional Republicans, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a provision in the Missouri constitution of 1865 that required public and corporation officers, attorneys, teachers, and clergymen, as a qualification of entering the duties of their office, to take an oath that they had never given aid to the rebellious Confederate states or expressed sympathy with the secessionist cause. The requirement, ruled the Court, violated the federal constitutional prohibition of bills of attainder—legislative acts that allow an individual or group to be singled out and punished without a trial.


Belz, Herman. Abraham Lincoln, Constitutionalism, and Equal Rights in the Civil War Era. New York: Fordham University Press, 1998.

Cox, LaWanda C. Fenlason, and John H. Cox, Politics, Principle, and Prejudice, 1865–1866; Dilemma of Reconstruction America. New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963.

P. OrmanRay

Andrew C.Rieser

See alsoEx Parte McCardle ; Ironclad Oath ; Loyalty Oaths .

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