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repeal the charter of the church, Mr. Justice Bradley used the following forceful language: "The power or Congress over the territories of the United States is general and plenary, arising from and incidental to the right to acquire the territory itself, and from the power given by the Constitution to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States. It would be absurd to hold that the United States has power to acquire territory, and no power to govern it when acquired. The power to acquire territory, other than the Territory Northwest of the Ohio River, (which belonged to the United States at the adoption of the Constitution,) is derived from the treaty-making power and the power to declare and carry on war. The incidents of these powers are those of national sovereignty and belong to all independent governments. The power to make acquisitions of territory by conquest, by treaty and by cession, is an incident of national sovereignty. The territory of Louisiana, when acquired from France, and the territories west of the Rocky Mountains, when acquired from Mexico, became the absolute property and domain of the United States, subject to such conditions as the government, in its diplomatic negotiations, had seen fit to accept relating to the rights of the people then inhabiting those territories. Having rightfully acquired said territories, the United States government was the only one which could impose laws upon them, and its sovereignty over them was complete. ... Doubtless Congress, in legislating for the territories, would be subject to those fundamental limitations in favor of personal rights which are formulated in the Constitution and its amendments, but those limitations would exist rather by inference and the general spirit of the Constitution, from which Congress derives all its powers, than by any express and direct application of its provisions.” See also, to the same effect, National Bank v. County of Yankton, (101 U. S. ,129;) Murphy v. Ramsey, (114 U. S. 15.)
In Webster v. Reid, (11 How. 437,) it was held that a law of the territory of Iowa, which prohibited the trial by jury of certain actions at law, founded on contract to recover payment for services, was void; but the case is of little value as bearing upon the question of the extension of the Constitution to that territory, inasmuch as the organic law of the territory of Iowa, by express provision and by reference, extended the laws of the United States, including the ordinance of 1787, (which provided expressly for jury trials,) so far as they were applicable; and the case was put upon this ground. (5 Stat. 235, 239, sec. 12.)
In Reynolds v. United States, (98 U. S. 145,) a law of the territory of Utah, providing for grand juries of fifteen persons, was held to be constitutional, though Rev. Stat. sec. 808 required that a grand jury empanelled before any Circuit or District Court of the United States shall consist of not less than sixteen nor more than twenty-three per
sons. Sec. 808 was held to apply only to the Circuit and District Courts. The territorial courts were free to act in obedience to their own laws.
In Ross's Case, (140 U. S. 453,) petitioner had been convicted by the American Consular Tribunal in Japan, of a murder committed upon an American vessel in the harbor of Yokohama, and sentenced to death. There was no indictment by a grand jury, and no trial by a petit jury. This court affirmed the conviction, holding that the Constitution had no application, since it was ordained and established “for the United States of America,” and not for countries outside of their limits. “The guarantees it affords against accusation of capital or infamous crimes, except by indictment or presentment by a grand jury, and for an impartial trial by a jury when thus accused, apply only to citizens and others within the United States, or who are brought there for trial for alleged offenses committed elsewhere, and not to residents and temporary sojourners abroad.”
In Springville v. Thomas, (166 U. S. 707,) it was held that a verdict returned by less than the whole number of jurors was invalid, because in contravention of the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution and the act of Congress of April 7, 1874, (18 Stat. 27,) which provide “that no party has been or shall be deprived of the right of trial by jury in cases cognizable at common law.” It was also intimated that Congress “could not impart the power to change the constitutional rule,” which was obviously true with respect to Utah, since the organic act of that territory (17 Stat. 458) had expressly extended to it the Constitution and laws of the United States. As we have already held, that provision once made could not be withdrawn. If the Constitution could be withdrawn directly, it could be nullified indirectly by acts passed inconsistent with it. The Constitution would thus cease to exist as such, and become of no greater authority than an ordinary act of Congress. In American Pub. Co. v. Fisher, (166 U. S. 461,) a similar law providing for majority verdicts was put upon the express ground above stated, that the organic act of Utah extended the Constitution over that territory. These rulings were repeated in Thompson v. Utah, (173 U. S. 343,) and applied to felonies committed before the territory became a State, although the State constitution continued the same provision.
Eliminating, then, from the opinions of this court all expressions unnecessary to the disposition of the particular case, and gleaning therefrom the exact point decided in each, the following propositions may be considered as established:
1. That the District of Columbia and the territories are not States, within the judicial clause of the Constitution giving jurisdiction in cases between citizens of different States;
2. That territories are not States, within the meaning of Revised Statutes, sec. 709, permitting writs of error from this court in cases where the validity of a State statute is drawn in question;
3. That the District of Columbia and the territories are States, as that word is used in treaties with foreign powers, with respect to the ownership, disposition and inheritance of property;
4. That the territories are not within the clause of the Constitution providing for the creation of a Supreme Court and such inferior courts as Congress may see fit to establish;
5. That the Constitution does not apply to foreign countries or to trials therein conducted, and that Congress may lawfully provide for such trials before consular tribunals, without the intervention of a grand or petit jury;
6. That where the Constitution has been once formally extended by Congress to territories, neither Congress nor the territorial legislature can enact laws inconsistent therewith.
The case of Dred Scott v. Sandford, (19 How. 393,) remains to be considered. This was an action of trespass vi et armis brought in the Circuit Court for the District of Missouri by Scott, alleging himself to be a citizen of Missouri, against Sandford, a citizen of New York. Defendant pleaded to the jurisdiction that Scott was not a citizen of the State of Missouri, because a negro of African descent, whose ancestors were imported as negro slaves. Plaintiff demurred to this plea and the demurrer was sustained; whereupon, by stipulation of counsel and with leave of the court, defendant pleaded in bar the general issue, and specially that the plaintiff was a slave and the lawful property of defendant, and, as such, he had a right to restrain him. The wife and children of the plaintiff were also involved in the suit.
The facts in brief were, that plaintiff had been a slave belonging to Dr. Emerson, a surgeon in the Army; that, in 1834, Emerson took the plaintiff from the State of Missouri to Rock Island, Illinois, and subsequently to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, (then known as Upper Louisiana,) and held him there until 1838. Scott married his wife there, of whom the children were subsequently born. In 1838 they returned to Missouri.
Two questions were presented by the record: First, whether the Circuit Court had jurisdiction; and, second, if it had jurisdiction, was the judgment erroneous or not? With regard to the first question, the court stated that it was its duty “to decide whether the facts stated in the plea are or are not sufficient to show that the plaintiff is not entitled to sue as a citizen in a court of the United States,” and that the question was whether “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into this country, and sold as slaves, became a member of the political community formed and brought into existence by the Constitution of the United States, and as such entitled to all the rights and privileges and immunities guaranteed by that instrument to the citizen, one of which rights is the privilege of suing in a court of the United States.” It was held that he was not, and was not included under the words “citizens” in the Constitution, and therefore could claim “none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States;" that it did not follow because he had all the rights and privileges of a citizen of a State, he must be a citizen of the United States; that no State could by any law of its own “introduce a new member into the political community created by the Constitution;" that the African race was not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted the Declaration of Independence. The question of the status of negroes in England and the several States was considered at great length by the Chief Justice, and the conclusion reached that Scott was not a citizen of Missouri, and that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction of the case.
This was sufficient to dispose of the case without reference to the question of slavery; but, as the plaintiff insisted upon his title to freedom and citizenship by the fact that he and his wife, though born slaves, were taken by their owner and kept four years in Illinois and Minnesota, they thereby became free, and upon their return to Missouri became citizens of that State, the Chief Justice proceeded to discuss the question whether Scott was still a slave. As the court had decided against his citizenship upon the plea in abatement, it was insisted that further decision upon the question of his freedom or slavery was extrajudicial and mere obiter dicta. But the Chief Justice held that the correction of one error in the court below did not deprive the appellate court of the power of examining further into the record and correcting any other material error which may have been committed; that the error of an inferior court in actually pronouncing judgment for one of the parties, in a case in which it had no jurisdiction, can be looked into or corrected by this court, even though it had decided a similar question presented in the pleadings.
Proceeding to decide the case upon the merits, he held that the territorial clause of the Constitution was confined to the territory which belonged to the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted, and did not apply to territory subsequently acquired from a foreign government.
In further examining the question as to what provision of the Constitution authorizes the Federal government to acquire territory outside of the original limits of the United States and what powers it may exercise therein over the person or property of a citizen of the United States, he made use of the following expressions, upon which great reliance is placed by the plaintiff in this case (p. 446): “There is certainly no power given by the Constitution to the Federal government to establish or maintain colonies bordering on the United States or at a distance, to be ruled and governed at its own pleasure; and if a new State is admitted, it needs no further legislation by Congress, because the Constitution itself defines the relative rights and powers and duties of the State, and the citizens of the State, and the Federal government. But no power is given to acquire a territory to be held and governed permanently in that character.”
He further held that citizens who migrate to a territory cannot be ruled as mere colonists, and that while Congress had the power of legislating over territories until States were formed from them, it could not deprive a citizen of his property merely because he brought it into a particular territory of the United States, and that this doctrine applied to slaves as well as to other property. Hence, it followed that the act of Congress which prohibited a citizen from holding and owning slaves in territories north of 36° 30' (known as the Missouri Compromise) was unconstitutional and void, and the fact that Scott was carried into such territory, referring to what is now known as Minnesota, did not entitle him to his freedom.
He further held that, whether he was made free by being taken into the free State of Illinois and being kept there two years, depended upon the laws of Missouri and not those of Illinois, and that by the decisions of the highest court of that State his status as a slave continued, notwithstanding his residence of two years in Illinois.
It must be admitted that this case is a strong authority in favor of the plaintiff, and if the opinion of the Chief Justice be taken at its full value it is decisive in his favor. We are not, however, bound to overlook the fact that, before the Chief Justice gave utterance to his opinion upon the merits, he had already disposed of the case adversely to the plaintiff upon the question of jurisdiction, and that, in view of the excited political condition of the country at the time, it is unfortunate that he felt compelled to discuss the question upon the merits, particularly so in view of the fact that it involved a ruling that an act of Congress, which had been acquiesced in for thirty years, was declared unconstitutional. It would appear from the opinion of Mr. Justice Wayne that the real reason for discussing these constitutional questions was that “there had become such a difference of opinion” about them “that the peace and harmony of the country required the settlement of them by judicial decision.” (p. 455.) The attempt was not successful. It is sufficient to say that the country did not acquiesce in the opinion, and that the civil war, which shortly thereafter followed, produced such changes in judicial, as well as public sentiment, as to seriously impair the authority of this case.
While there is much in the opinion of the Chief Justice which tends to prove that he thought all the provisions of the Constitution extended of their own force to the territories west of the Mississippi, the question actually decided is readily distinguishable from the one involved in the cause under consideration. The power to prohibit slavery in the territories is so different from the power to impose duties upon territorial products, and depends upon such different provisions of the Constitution, that they can scarcely be considered as analogous,