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Term: Leary v. United States

Leary v. United States, 395 U.S. 6 (1969), is a U.S. Supreme Court case dealing with the constitutionality of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. Timothy Leary, a professor and activist, was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the Marihuana Tax Act. Leary challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated the Fifth Amendment. The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Thus, Leary's conviction was overturned. Congress responded shortly thereafter by replacing the Marihuana Tax Act with the newly written Controlled Substances Act while continuing the prohibition of certain drugs in the United States.

Leary v. United States
Argued December 11–12, 1968
Decided May 19, 1969
Full case nameTimothy Leary v. United States
Citations395 U.S. 6 (more)
89 S. Ct. 1532; 23 L. Ed. 2d 57; 1969 U.S. LEXIS 3271; 69-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH) ¶ 15,900; 23 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 2006
Case history
PriorOn writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
The Marihuana Tax Act required self-incrimination, thus violating the Fifth Amendment of Constitution. Leary's conviction reversed.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Earl Warren
Associate Justices
Hugo Black · William O. Douglas
John M. Harlan II · William J. Brennan Jr.
Potter Stewart · Byron White
Thurgood Marshall
Case opinions
MajorityHarlan, joined by Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall; Warren (in part)
ConcurrenceBlack (in judgment)
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. V, Marihuana Tax Act
Superseded by
Controlled Substance Act
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