Ex Parte Virginia/Dissent Field

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Court Documents
Case Syllabus
Opinion of the Court
Dissenting Opinion
Field

United States Supreme Court

100 U.S. 339

Ex Parte Virginia


MR. JUSTICE FIELD, with whom concurred MR. JUSTICE CLIFFORD, dissenting.

I dissent from the judgment of the court in this case, and from the reasons by which it is supported; and I will state the grounds of my dissent.

In Virginia, all male citizens between the ages of twenty-one and sixty, who are entitled to vote and hold office under the Constitution and laws of the State, are liable, with certain exceptions not material to be here mentioned, to serve as jurors. The judge of each county or corporation court is required to prepare annually a list of such inhabitants of the county or corporation, not less than one hundred, nor exceeding three hundred in number, 'as he shall think well qualified to serve as jurors, being persons of sound judgment and free from legal exception.' The name of each person on the list thus prepared is to be written on a separate ballot, and placed in a box to be kept by the clerk of the court. From this box the names of persons to be summoned as grand and petit jurors of the county are to be drawn.

The law, in thus providing for the preparation of the list of persons from whom the jurors are to be taken, makes no discrimination against persons of the colored race. The judge of the county or corporation court is restricted in his action only by the condition that the persons selected shall, in his opinion, be 'well qualified to serve as jurors,' be 'of sound judgment,' and 'free from legal exception.' Whether they possess these qualifications is left to his determination; and, as I shall attempt hereafter to show, for the manner in which he discharges this duty he is responsible only to the State whose officer he is and whose law he is bound to enforce.

The petitioner, J. D. Coles, is the judge of the county court of the county of Pittsylvania, in Virginia, and has held that office for some years. It is not pretended that, in the discharge of his judicial duties, he has ever selected as jurors persons who were not qualified to serve in that character, or who were not of sound judgment, or who were not free from legal exception. It is not even suggested in argument that he has not at all times faithfully obeyed the law of the State; yet he has been indicted in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia for having, on some undesignated day in the year 1878, excluded and failed to select as grand and petit jurors citizens of the county, on account of race, color, and previous condition of servitude. The indictment does not state who those citizens were, or set forth any particulars of the offence, but charges it in the general words of a definition. The District Court, nevertheless, issued a bench-warrant, upon which the judge was arrested, and, refusing to give bail, he is held in custody to answer the indictment. He therefore petitions for a certiorari to that court to send up the record of its proceedings for our examination, and for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that its action was without jurisdiction, and that his imprisonment thereunder is unlawful; and he prays to be released therefrom.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has also presented a similar petition, declaring that she is injured by being deprived of the services of her judicial officer, by his unlawful arrest and imprisonment.

If the District Court had no jurisdiction, as alleged, of the matters charged against the county judge, if they constitute no public offence for which he could be held, his arrest and imprisonment upon process issued upon the indictment were unlawful, and his petition should be granted.

It has been settled by this court upon full examination, and after some conflict of opinion among it members, that the writ of habeas corpus is a mode provided for the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, whenever by any unauthorized action of an inferior tribunal, whether it be by its order, decree, or process, a citizen is restrained of his personal liberty; and that a certiorari will issue in connection with the writ, to bring up the record of the inferior tribunal for examination. In such cases this court will look into the record, to determine not whether the inferior tribunal has erred in its action, but whether it has exceeded its jurisdiction in the imprisonment of the petitioner. Ex parte Yerger, 8 Wall. 85; Ex parte Lange, 18 id. 166.

The indictment is founded upon the fourth section of the act of Congress of March 1, 1875, 'to protect all citizens in their civil and legal rights,' which declares, 'That no citizen possessing all other qualifications, which are or may be prescribed by law, shall be disqualified for service as grand or petit juror in any court of the United States, or of any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude; and any officer or other person charged with any duty in the selection or summoning of jurors, who shall exclude or fail to summon any citizen for the cause aforesaid, shall, on conviction thereof, be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and be fined not more than $5,000.'

In what I have to say, I shall endeavor to show that the District Court in issuing its process for the arrest of the defendant, and in imprisoning him, exceeded its jurisdiction: 1st, because, assuming that the act of 1875 is constitutional and valid legislation, the indictment describes no offence under it, but is void on its face; and, 2d, because that act in the section cited, so far as it relates to jurors in the State courts, is unconstitutional and void.

The indictment merely repeats the general language of the statute. It avers that the defendant, being judge of Pittsylvania County, and an officer charged by law with the selection of jurors to serve in the circuit and county courts of the county, excluded and failed to select as jurors, on account of race, color, and previous condition of servitude, certain citizens of the county possessing all other qualifications prescribed by law; but it names no citizens who were thus excluded, and, of course, designates no specific traversable offence. It is essential to a valid indictment that it should set forth the offence, with such particulars of time, place, and person, that the accused may know the nature of the charge, and be able to prepare to meet it. It is not enough to repeat the definition of the offence in the general language of the statute, and then aver that the defendant has been guilty of the offence thus defined, without other specification. It is not sufficient, for example, to charge in an indictment that the defendant has been guilty of murder, without stating the time and place of the offence, and the name of the person murdered, or, if his name be unknown, giving such a description as to identify him. An indictment without such specification would be merely a collection of pointless words. This doctrine is only common learning; it is found in the hornbooks of the law; it is on the pages thumbed by the student in his first lessons in criminal procedure.

The Constitution, in its sixth amendment, strikes with nullity all such vague accusations as are embraced in this indictment. It declares, repeating in this respect the doctrine of the common law, that, in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall 'be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation' against him; and this means that all the essential ingredients of the offence charged must be stated, embracing, with reasonable certainty, the particulars of time, place, and person or property. It is only by such information that the accused will be enabled to prepare his defence, and avail himself of his acquittal or conviction against any further prosecution for the same cause. 'This principle,' says Bishop in his treatise, 'that the indictment must contain an allegation of every fact which is legally essential to the punishment to be inflicted, pervades the entire system of the adjudged law of criminal procedure. It is not made apparent to our understandings by a single case only, but by all the cases. Wherever we move in this department of our jurisprudence, we come in contact with it. We can no more escape from it than from the atmosphere which surrounds us.' Sect. 81. To the same effect is the language of Archbold, in his treatise on Criminal Practice and Pleading. 'The indictment,' he says, 'must state all the facts and circumstances comprised in the definition of the offence, by the rule of the common law or statute on which the indictment is founded. And these must be stated with clearness and certainty, otherwise the indictment will be bad.' And he states that the principal rule as to the certainty required in an indictment may be laid down thus: 'That where the definition of an offence, whether by a rule of the common law or by statute, includes generic terms (as it necessarily must), it is not sufficient that the indictment should charge the offence in the same generic terms as in the definition, but it must state the species,-it must descend to particulars. p. 88. This doctrine is fully stated and illustrated in the Cruikshank Case, both in the prevailing and dissenting opinion. 92 U.S. 558, 568. Tested by it, the indictment here is but a string of words, presenting no specific offence, and, therefore, not justifying the issue of any process for the arrest and imprisonment of the petitioner.

It is difficult to understand how an indictment so defective could have been drawn by the public prosecutor, unless we accept, as an explanation of it, the extraordinary statement of counsel, that the district judge instructed the grand jury to the effect, that whenever it appeared that a State judge, in discharging the duty imposed on him by the law of the State to prepare annually a list of such inhabitants of his county as he should 'think well qualified to serve as jurors, being persons of sound judgment and free from legal exception,' had never put colored persons on the jury lists, it was to be presumed that his failure to do so was because of their race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and that it was the duty of the grand jury to indict him for that offence. In the face of this ruling no defence could be made by the accused, although he may have exercised at all times his best judgment in the selection of qualified persons, unless he could prove, what in most cases would be impossible, that in a county of many thousand inhabitants there was not a colored person qualified to serve as a juror. With this ruling there could be no necessity of alleging in the indictment any thing beyond the general failure to put colored persons on the jury list,-a fact which could not be disputed; and it would sufficiently inform the accused that he must be prepared, in order to rebut the presumption of guilt, to prove that there were no persons of the colored race in the county qualified to act as jurors. It is difficult to speak of this ruling in the language of moderation.

My second position is that the fourth section of the act of 1875, so far as it applies to the selection of jurors in the State courts, is unconstitutional and void. Previous to the late amendments, it would not have been contended, by any one familiar with the Constitution, that Congress was vested with any power to exercise supervision over the conduct of State officers in the discharge of their duties under the laws of the State, and prescribe a punishment for disregarding its directions. It would have been conceded that the selection of jurors was a subject exclusively for regulation by the States that it was for them to determine who should act as jurors in their courts, from what class they should be taken, and what qualifications they should possess; and that their officers in carrying out the laws in this respect were responsible only to them. The States could have abolished jury trials altogether, and required all controversies to be submitted to the courts without their intervention. The Sixth and Seventh Amendments, in which jury trials are mentioned, apply only to the Federal courts, as has been repeatedly adjudged.

The government created by the Constitution was not designed for the regulation of matters of purely local concern. The States required no aid from any external authority to manage their domestic affairs. They were fully competent to provide for the due administration of justice between their own citizens in their own courts; and they needed no directions in that matter from any other government, any more than they needed directions as to their highways and schools, their hospitals and charitable institutions, their public libraries, or the magistrates they should appoint for their towns and counties. It was only for matters which concerned all the States, and which could not be managed by them in their independent capacity, or managed only with great difficulty and embarrassment, that a general and common government was desired. Whilst they retained control of local matters, it was felt necessary that matters of general and common interest, which they could not wisely and efficiently manage, should be intrusted to a central authority. And so to the common government which grew out of this prevailing necessity was granted exclusive jurisdiction over external affairs, including the great powers of declaring war, making peace, and concluding treaties; but only such powers of internal regulation were conferred as were essential to the successful and efficient working of the government established,-to facilitate intercourse and commerce between the people of the different States, and secure to them equality of protection in the several States.

That the central government was created chiefly for matters of a general character, which concerned all the States and their people, and not for matters of interior regulation, is shown as much by the history of its formation as by the express language of the Constitution. The Union preceded the Constitution. As happily expressed by the late Chief Justice, 'It began among the colonies, and grew out of common origin, mutual sympathies, kindred principles, similar interests, and geographical relations. It was confirmed and strengthened by the necessities of war, and received definite form and character and sanction from the Articles of Confederation.' Texas v. White, 7 Wall. 725. Those articles were prepared by the Continental Congress, which was called to provide measures for the common defence of the colonies against the encroachments of the British crown, and which, failing to secure redress, declared their independence. Its members foresaw that, when the independence of the colonies was established and acknowledged, their condition as separate and independent States would be beset with dangers threatening their peace and safety; that disputes arising from conflicting interests and rivalries, always incident to neighboring nations, would lead to armed collisions, and expose them to reconquest by the mother country. To provide against the possibility of evils of this kind, the Articles of Confederation were prepared and submitted to the legislatures of the several States, and finally, in 1781, were adopted. They declared that the States entered into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defence, the security of their liberties and their mutual and general welfare; and they bound themselves to assist each other against attacks on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretence. They clothed the new government created by them with powers supposed to be ample to secure these ends, and declared that there should be freedom of intercourse and commerce between the inhabitants of the several States. They provided for a general congress, and, among other things, invested it with the exclusive power of determining on peace and war, except in case of invasion of a State by enemies, or imminent danger of such invasion by Indians; of sending and receiving ambassadors, entering into treaties and alliances; of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by the authority of the States or of the United States; of fixing the standard of weights and measures; of regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians; and of establishing and regulating post-offices from one State to another; and they placed numerous restraints upon the States. But by none of the articles was any interference authorized with the purely internal affairs of the States, or with any of the instrumentalities by which the States administered their governments and dispensed justice among their people; and they declared in terms that each State retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which was not by the articles expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.

When the government of the confederation failed, chiefly through the want of all coercive authority, to carry into effect its measures,-its power being only that of recommendation to the States,-and the present Constitution was adopted, the same general ends were sought to be attained; namely, the creation of a central government, which would take exclusive charge of all our foreign relations, representing the people of all the States in that respect as one nation, and would at the same time secure at home freedom of intercourse between the States, equality of protection to citizens of each State in the several States, uniformity of commercial regulations, a common currency, a standard of weights and measures, one postal system, and such other matters as concerned all the States and their people.

Accordingly, the new government was invested with powers adequate to the accomplishment of these purposes, with which it could act directly upon the people, and not by recommendation to the States, and enforce its measures through tribunals and officers of its own creation. There were also restraints placed upon the action of the States to prevent interference with the authority of the new government, and to secure to all persons protection against punishment by legislative decree, and insure the fulfilment of contract obligations. But the control of matters of purely local concern, not coming within the scope of the powers granted or the restraints mentioned, was left, where it had always existed, with the States. The new government being one of granted powers, its authority was limited by them and such as were necessarily implied for their execution. But lest, from a misconception of their extent, these powers might be abused, the [[United States Bill of Rights|Tenth Amendment]] was at an early day adopted, declaring that 'the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the States are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.'

Now, if we look into the Constitution, we shall not find a single word, from its opening to its concluding line, nor in any of the amendments in force before the close of the civil war, nor, as I shall hereafter endeavor to show, in those subsequently adopted, which authorizes any interference by Congress with the States in the administration of their governments, and the enforcement of their laws with respect to any matter over which jurisdiction was not surrendered to the United States. The design of its framers was not to destroy the States, but to form a more perfect union between them, and, whilst creating a central government for certain great purposes, to leave to the States in all matters the jurisdiction of which was not surrendered the functions essential to separate and independent existence. And so the late Chief Justice, speaking for the court in 1869, said: 'Not only, therefore, can there be no loss of separate and independent autonomy to the States, through their union under the Constitution, but it may be not unreasonably said that the preservation of the States and the maintenance of their governments are as much within the design and care of the Constitution as the preservation of the Union and the maintenance of the national government;' and then he adds, in that striking language which gives to an old truth new force and significance, that 'the Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.' Texas v. White, supra.

And Mr. Justice Nelson, also speaking for the court, in 1871, used this language: 'The general government and the States, although both exist within the same territorial limits, are separate and distinct sovereignties, acting separately and independently of each other, within their respective spheres. The former in its appropriate sphere is supreme; but the States within the limits of their powers not granted, or, in the language of the [[United States Bill of Rights|Tenth Amendment]], 'reserved,' are as independent of the general government as that government within its spheres is independent of the States.' And again: 'We have said that one of the reserved powers was that to establish a judicial department; it would have been more accurate, and in accordance with the existing state of things at the time, to have said the power to maintain a judicial department. All of the thirteen States were in the possession of this power, and had exercised it at the adoption of the Constitution; and it is not pretended that any grant of it to the general government is found in that instrument. It is, therefore, one of the sovereign powers vested in the States by their constitutions, which remained unaltered and unimpaired, and in respect to which the State is as independent of the general government as that government is independent of the States.' The Collector v. Day, 11 Wall. 124-126.

The cases of Texas v. White and The Collector v. Day were decided after the Thirteenth and [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]s, upon which it is sought to maintain the legislation in question, were adopted; and with their provisions the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Nelson, and the court for which they spoke, were familiar. Yet neither they, nor any other judge of the court, suggested that the doctrines announced in the opinions, from which I have quoted, were in any respect modified or affected by the amendments.

Nothing, in my judgment, could have a greater tendency to destroy the independence and autonomy of the States; reduce them to a humiliating and degrading dependence upon the central government; engender constant irritation; and destroy that domestic tranquillity which it was one of the objects of the Constitution to insure,-than the doctrine asserted in this case, that Congress can exercise coercive authority over judicial officers of the States in the discharge of their duties under State laws. It will be only another step in the same direction towards consolidation, when it assumes to exercise similar coercive authority over governors and legislators of the States.

The Constitution declares that a 'person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime.' And yet in the case of The Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Dennison, where a fugitive from justice from Kentucky was demanded from the Governor of Ohio, and on his refusal application was made to this court for a mandamus to compel him to perform his duty in this respect, it was held that there was no clause or provision in the Constitution which armed the government of the United States with authority to compel the executive of a State to perform his duty, nor to inflict any punishment for his neglect or refusal. 'Indeed, such a power,' said Mr. Chief Justice Taney, speaking for the whole court, 'would place every State under the control and dominion of the general government even in the administration of its internal concerns and reserved rights.' 24 How. 107. And Mr. Justice Nelson, in the case of Collector v. Day, where it was held that it was not competent for Congress to impose a tax upon the salary of a judicial officer of a State, said, that 'any government whose means employed in conducting its operations are made subject to the control of another and distinct government, can exist only at the mercy of that government.' I could add to these authorities, if any thing more were required, that all the recorded utterances of the statesmen who participated in framing the Constitution and urging its adoption, and of the publicists and jurists who have since studied its language and aided in the enforcement of its provisions, are inconsistent with the pretension advanced in this case by the counsel of the government.

The duties of the county judge in the selection of jurors were judicial in their nature. They involved the exercise of discretion and judgment. He was to determine who were qualified to serve in that character, and for that purpose whether they possessed sound judgment, and were free from legal exceptions. The law under which he acted had been in force for many years, and had been always considered by the judicial authorities of Virginia to be in conformity with its Constitution, which inhibits the legislature from requiring of its judges any other than judicial duties. A test as to the character of an act is found in the power of a writ of mandamus to enforce its performance in a particular way. If the act be a judicial one, the writ can only require the judge to proceed in the discharge of his duty with reference to it; the manner of performance cannot be dictated. Here the writ could not command the county judge to select as jurors any particular persons, black or white, but only to proceed and select such as are qualified,-its command in that respect being subject to the limitation incident to all commands of such writs upon judicial officers touching judicial acts.

The Thirteenth and [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]s are relied upon, as already stated, to support the legislation in question. The [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIII|Thirteenth Amendment]] declares 'that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subjet to their jurisdiction.' The [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]], in its first section, which is the only one having any bearing upon the questions involved in this case, declares that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' The Fifteenth Amendment, which declares that 'the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude,' is not material to the question before us, except as showing that it was only with respect to the suffrage that an interdict was in terms placed against legislation on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Equality in their civil rights was in other ways secured to persons of the colored race; and the ballot being assured to them, an effectual means against unjust legislation was placed in their hands. To each of these amendments a clause is added, authorizing Congress to enforce its provisions by 'appropriate legislation.'

The history of the amendments is fresh in the recollection of all of us. They grew out of the late civil war and the events which followed it. They were primarily designed to give freedom to persons of the African race, prevent their future enslavement, make them citizens, prevent discriminating State legislation against their rights as freemen, and secure to them the ballot. The generality of the language used necessarily extends some of their provisions to all persons of every race and color; but in construing the amendments and giving effect to them, the occasion of their adoption and the purposes they were designed to attain should be always borne in mind. Nor should it be forgotten that they are additions to the previous amendments, and are to be construed in connection with them and the original Constitution as one instrument. They do not, in terms, contravene or repeal any thing which previously existed in the Constitution and those amendments. Aside from the extinction of slavery, and the declaration of citizenship, their provisions are merely prohibitory upon the States and there is nothing in their language or purpose which indicates that they are to be construed or enforced in any way different from that adopted with reference to previous restraints upon the States. The provision authorizing Congress to enforce them by appropriate legislation does not enlarge their scope, nor confer any authority which would not have existed independently of it. No legislation would be appropriate which should contravene the express prohibitions upon Congress previously existing, as, for instance, that it should not pass a bill of attainder or an ex post facto law. Nor would legislation be appropriate which should conflict with the implied prohibitions upon Congress. They are as obligatory as the express prohibitions. The Constitution, as already stated, contemplates the existence and independence of the States in all their reserved powers. If the States were destroyed, there could, of course, be no United States. In the language of this court, in The Collector v. Day, 'without them the general government itself would disappear from the family of nations.' Legislation could not, therefore, be appropriate which, under pretence of prohibiting a State from doing certain things, should tend to destroy it, or any of its essential attributes. To every State, as understood in the American sense, there must be, with reference to the subjects over which it has jurisdiction, absolute freedom from all external interference in the exercise of its legislative, judicial, and executive authority. Congress could not undertake to prescribe the duties of a State legislature and the rules it should follow, and the motives by which it should be governed, and authorize criminal prosecutions against the members if its directions were disregarded; for the independence of the legislature is essential to the independence and autonomy of the State. Congress could not lay down rules for the guidance of the State judiciary, and prescribe to it the law and the motives by which it should be controlled, and if these were disregarded, direct criminal proceedings against its members; because a judiciary independent of external authority is essential to the independence of the State, and also, I may add, to a just and efficient administration of justice in her courts. Congress could not dictate to the executive of a State the bills he might approve, the pardons and reprieves he might grant, or the manner in which he might discharge the functions of his office, and assume to punish him if its dictates were disregarded, because his independence, within the reserved powers, is essential to that of the State. Indeed, the independence of a State consists in the independence of its legislative, executive, and judicial officers, through whom alone it acts. If this were not so, a State would cease to be a self-existing and an indestructible member of the Union, and would be brought to the level of a dependent municipal corporation, existing only with such powers as Congress might prescribe.

I cannot think I am mistaken in saying that a change so radical in the relation between the Federal and State authorities, as would justify legislation interfering with the independent action of the different departments of the State governments, in all matters over which the States retain jurisdiction, was never contemplated by the recent amendments. The people in adopting them did not suppose they were altering the fundamental theory of their dual system of governments. The discussions attending their consideration in Congress, and before the people, when presented to the legislatures of the States for adoption, can be successfully appealed to in support of this assertion. The Union was preserved at a fearful cost of life and property. The institution of slavery in a portion of the country was the cause of constant irritation and crimination between the people of the States where it existed and those of the free States, which finally led to a rupture between them and to the civil war. As the war progressed, its sacrifices and burdens filled the people of the loyal States with a determination, that not only should the Union be preserved, but that the institution which, in their judgment, had threatened its dissolution should be abolished. The emancipation proclamation of President Lincoln expressed this determination, though placed on the ground of military necessity. The [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIII|Thirteenth Amendment]] carried it into the organic law. That amendment prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, except for crime, within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Its language is not restricted to the slavery of any particular class. It applies to all men; and embraces in its comprehensive language not merely that form of slavery which consists in the denial of personal rights to the slave, and subjects him to the condition of a chattel, but also serfage, vassalage, peonage, villeinage, and every other form of compulsory service for the benefit, pleasure, or caprice of others. It was intended to render every one within the domain of the republic a freeman, with the right to follow the ordinary pursuits of life without other restraints than such as are applied to all others, and to enjoy equally with them the earnings of his labor. But it confers no political rights; it leaves the States free, as before its adoption, to determine who shall hold their offices and participate in the administration of their laws. A similar prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude was in the Constitution of several States previous to its adoption by the United States; and it was never held to confer any political rights.

On the 18th of December, 1865, this amendment was ratified, that is, the official proclamation of its ratification was then made; and in April of the following year the Civil Rights Act was passed. Its first section declares that all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are 'citizens of the United States,' and that 'such citizens, of every race and color, without regard to any previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted, shall have the same right in every State and Territory in the United States, to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property as is enjoyed by white persons.' This legislation was intended to secure to all persons in the United States practical freedom. But its validity was questioned in many quarters entitled to consideration, and some of its provisions not long afterwards were declared by State courts to be beyond the constitutional authority of Congress. Bowlin v. Commonwealth, 2 Bush (Ky.), 15. There were also complaints made that notwithstanding the amendment abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, except for crime, the freedmen were, by legislation in some of the Southern States, subjected to such burdensome disabilities in the acquisition and enjoyment of property, and the pursuit of happiness, as to render their freedom of little value. Slaughter-House Cases, 16 Wall. 36. There were, besides, complaints of the existence, in those sections, of a feeling of dislike towards citizens of the North seeking residence there, and towards such of their own citizens as had adhered to the national government during the war, which could not fail to find expression in hostile and discriminating legislation. It is immaterial whether these complaints were justified or not; they were believed by many persons to be well-founded. To remove the cause of them; to obviate objections to the validity of legislation similar to that contained in the first section of the Civil Rights Act; to prevent the possibility of hostile and discriminating legislation in future by a State against any citizen of the United States, and the enforcement of any such legislation already had; and to secure to all persons within the jurisdiction of the States the equal protection of the laws,-the first section of the [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]] was adopted. Its first clause declared who are citizens of the United States and of the States. It thus removed from discussion the question, which had previously been debated, and though decided, not settled, by the judgment in the Dred Scott Case, whether descendants of persons brought to this country and sold as slaves were citizens, within the meaning of the Constitution. It also recognized, if it did not create, a national citizenship, as contradistinguished from that of the States. But the privilege or the duty, whichever it may be called, of acting as a juror in the courts of the country, is not an incident of citizenship. Women are citizens; so are the aged above sixty, and children in their minority; yet they are not allowed in Virginia to act as jurors. Though some of these are in all respects qualified for such service, no one will pretend that their exclusion by law from the jury list impairs their rights as citizens.

The second clause of the first section of the amendment declares that 'no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.' In Slaughter-House Cases, it was held by a majority of the court that this clause had reference only to privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, as distinguished from those of citizens of the States, and, therefore, did not apply to those fundamental civil rights which belong to citizens of all free governments, such as the right to acquire and enjoy property and pursue happiness, subject only to such just restraints as might be prescribed for the general good. If this construction be correct, there can be no pretence that the privilege or duty of acting as a juror in a State court is within the inhibition of the clause. Nor could it be within that inhibition if a broader construction were given to the clause, and it should be held, as contended by the minority of the court in Slaughter-House Cases, that it prohibits the denial or abridgment by any State of those fundamental privileges and immunities which of right belong to citizens of all free governments; and with which the Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men were endowed by their Creator, and to secure which governments were instituted among men. These fundamental rights were secured, previous to the amendment, to citizens of each State in the other States, by the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which declares that 'the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.' Among those privileges and immunities it was never contended that jury duty or jury service was included.

The third clause in the first section of the amendment declares that no State 'shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.' It will not be contended that this clause confers upon the citizen any right to serve as a juror in the State courts. It exists in the Constitution of nearly all the States, and is only an additional security against arbitrary deprivation of life and liberty, and arbitrary spoliation of property. It means that neither can be taken, or the enjoyment thereof impaired, except in the course of the regular administration of the law in the established tribunals. The existence of this clause in the amendment is to me a persuasive argument that those who framed it, and the legislatures of the States which adopted it, never contemplated that the prohibition was to be enforced in any other way than through the judicial tribunals, as previous prohibitions upon the States had always been enforced. If Congress could, as an appropriate means to enforce the prohibition, prescribe criminal prosecutions for its infraction against legislators, judges, and other officers of the States, it would be authorized to frame a vast portion of their laws; for there are few subjects upon which legislation can be had besides life, liberty, and property. In determining what constitutes a deprivation of property, it might prescribe the conditions upon which property shall be acquired and held, and declare as to what subjects property rights shall exist. In determining what constitutes deprivation of liberty, it might prescribe in what way and by what means the liberty of the citizen shall be deemed protected. In prescribing punishment for deprivation of life, it might prescribe a code of criminal procedure. All this and much more might be done if it once be admitted, as the court asserts in this case, that Congress can authorize a criminal prosecution for the infraction of the prohibitions. It cannot prescribe punishment without defining crime, and therefore must give expression to its own views as to what constitutes protection to life, liberty, and property.

The fourth clause in the first section of the amendment declares that no State shall 'deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' Upon this clause the counsel of the district judge chiefly rely to sustain the validity of the legislation in question. But the universality of the protection secured necessarily renders their position untenable. All persons within the jurisdiction of the State, whether permanent residents or temporary sojourners, whether old or young, male or female, are to be equally protected. Yet no one will contend that equal protection to women, to children, to the aged, to aliens, can only be secured by allowing persons of the class to which they belong to act as jurors in cases affecting their interests. The equality of protection intended does not require that all persons shall be permitted to participate in the government of the State and the administration of its laws, to hold its offices, or be clothed with any public trusts. As already said, the universality of the protection assured repels any such conclusion.

The equality of the protection secured extends only to civil rights as distinguished from those which are political, or arise from the form of the government and its mode of administration. And yet the reach and influence of the amendment are immense. It opens the courts of the country to every one, on the same terms, for the security of his person and property, the prevention and redress of wrongs, and the enforcement of contracts; it assures to every one the same rules of evidence and modes of procedure; it allows no impediments to the acquisition of property and the pursuit of happiness, to which all are not subjected; it suffers no other or greater burdens or charges to be laid upon one than such as are equally borne by others; and in the administration of criminal justice it permits no different or greater punishment to be imposed upon one than such as is prescribed to all for like offences. It secures to all persons their civil rights upon the same terms; but it leaves political rights, or such as arise from the form of government and its administration, as they stood previous to its adoption. It has no more reference to them than it has to social rights and duties, which do not rest upon any positive law, though they are more potential in controlling the intercourse of individuals. In the consideration of questions growing out of these amendments much confusion has arisen from a failure to distinguish between the civil and the political rights of citizens. Civil rights are absolute and personal. Political rights, on the other hand, are conditioned and dependent upon the discretion of the elective or appointing power, whether that be the people acting through the ballot, or one of the departments of their government. The civil rights of the individual are never to be withheld, and may be always judicially enforced. The political rights which he may enjoy, such as holding office and discharging a public trust, are qualified because their possession depends on his fitness, to be adjudged by those whom society has clothed with the elective authority. The Thirteenth and [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]s were designed to secure the civil rights of all persons, of every race, color, and condition; but they left to the States to determine to whom the possession of political powers should be intrusted. This is manifest from the fact that when it was desired to confer political power upon the newly made citizens of the States, as was done by inhibiting the denial to them of the suffrage on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, a new amendment was required.

The doctrine of the district judge, for which the counsel contend, would lead to some singular results. If, when a colored person is accused of a criminal offence, the presence of persons of his race on the jury by which he is to be tried is essential to secure to him the equal protection of the laws, it would seem that the presence of such persons on the bench would be equally essential, if the court should consist of more than one judge, as in many cases it may; and if it should consist of a single judge, that such protection would be impossible. A similar objection might be raised to the composition of any appellate court to which the case, after verdict, might be carried.

The position that in cases where the rights of colored persons are concerned, justice will not be done to them unless they have a mixed jury, is founded upon the notion that in such cases white persons will not be fair and honest jurors. If this position be correct, there ought not to be any white persons on the jury where the interests of colored persons only are involved. That jury would not be an honest or fair one, of which any of its members should be governed in his judgment by other considerations than the law and the evidence; and that decision would hardly be considered just which should be reached by a sort of compromise, in which the prejudices of one race were set off against the prejudices of the other. To be consistent, those who hold this notion should contend that in cases affecting members of the colored race only, the juries should be composed entirely of colored persons, and that the presiding judge should be of the same race. To this result the doctrine asserted by the District Court logically leads. The jury de medietate linguoe, anciently allowed in England for the trial of an alien, was expressly authorized by statute, probably as much because of the difference of language and customs between him and Englishmen, and the greater probability of his defence being more fully understood, as because it would be heard in a more friendly spirit by jurors of his own country and language.

If these views as to the purport and meaning of the Thirteenth and [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]s to the Constitution be correct, there is no warrant for the act of Congress under which the indictment in this case was found, and the arrest and imprisonment of the petitioner were unlawful, and his release should be ordered.

The case is one which should not be delayed for the slow process of a trial in the court below, and a subsequent appeal, in case of conviction, to this court to be heard years hence. The Commonwealth of Virginia has represented to us that the services of her judicial officer are needed in her courts for the administration of justice between her citizens, and she asks that the highest tribunal of the Union will release him from his unlawful arrest, in order that he may perform the duties of his office. Those who regard the independence of the States in all their reserved powers,-and this includes the independence of their legislative, judicial, and executive departments,-as essential to the successful maintenance of our form of government, cannot fail to view with the gravest apprehension for the future, the indictment, in a court of the United States, of a judicial officer of a State for the manner in which he has discharged his duties under her laws, and of which she makes no complaint. The proceeding is a gross offence to the State: it is an attack upon her sovereignty in matters over which she has never surrendered her jurisdiction. The doctrine which sustains it, carried to its logical results, would degrade and sink her to the level of a mere local municipal corporation; for if Congress can render an officer of a State criminally liable for the manner in which he discharges his duties under her laws, it can prescribe the nature and extent of the penalty to which he shall be subjected on conviction; it may imprison him for life, or punish him by removal from office. And if it can make the exclusion of persons from jury service on account of race or color a criminal offence, it can make their exclusion from office on that account also criminal; and, adopting the doctrine of the district judge in this case, the failure to appoint them to office will be presumptive evidence of their exclusion on that ground. To such a result are we logically led. The legislation of Congress is founded, and is sustained by this court, as it seems to me, upon a theory as to what constitutes the equal protection of the laws, which is purely speculative, not warranted by any experience of the country, and not in accordance with the understanding of the people as to the meaning of those terms since the organization of the government.

Notes[edit]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).