Massachusetts v. Laird 400 U.S. 886 (1970)

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MASSACHUSETTS v. LAIRD 400 U.S. 886 (1970)

In 1969, the legislature of Massachusetts attempted to nullify the vietnam war. It passed an act declaring the war unconstitutional, exempting Massachusetts citizens from service in the war, and directing the state attorney general to seek a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the war. Accordingly, the attorney general filed suit in the state's name against the secretary of defense, Melvin Laird, requesting an order prohibiting the secretary from sending any Massachusetts citizen to Vietnam. As the suit was between a state and a citizen of another state, it would have come within the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Court, however, voted 6–3 to deny leave to file the complaint. Justice william o. douglas, who passionately desired an opportunity to rule on the constitutionality of the war, filed an unusual fourteen-page dissent from the denial memorandum.

Dennis J. Mahoney
(1986)