Skip to main content

Bounds v. Smith 430 U.S. 817 (1977)

BOUNDS v. SMITH 430 U.S. 817 (1977)

Several state prisoners sued North Carolina prison authorities in federal court, claiming they had been denied legal research facilities in violation of their fourteenth amendment rights. The Supreme Court, 6–3, upheld this claim in an opinion by Justice thurgood marshall.

For the first time the Court explicitly recognized a "fundamental constitutional right of access to the courts." This right imposed on prison authorities the affirmative duty to provide either adequate law libraries or the assistance of law-trained persons, so that prisoners might prepare habeas corpus petitions and other legal papers. The three dissenters each wrote an opinion. Justice william h. rehnquist complained that the majority had neither defined the content of "meaningful" access nor specified the source of the Fourteenth Amendment right; an equal protection right, he pointed out, would conflict with ross v. moffitt (1974).

Kenneth L. Karst
(1986)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bounds v. Smith 430 U.S. 817 (1977)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Bounds v. Smith 430 U.S. 817 (1977)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 17, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bounds-v-smith-430-us-817-1977

"Bounds v. Smith 430 U.S. 817 (1977)." Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. . Retrieved November 17, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/politics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/bounds-v-smith-430-us-817-1977

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.