Opinion of the Court.

254 U.S.

the bridge as constructed was and is devoted wholly to international commerce and that when Congress authorized it in that form in 1874 that authority must be regarded as the charter under which it was maintained. Without repeating the considerations urged in support of this conclusion we will state the reasons that prevail with us. The part of the structure with which we are concerned is within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of New York. There was no exercise of the power of eminent domain by the United States. The State was the source of every title to that land and, apart from the special purposes to which it might be destined, of every right to use it. Any structure upon it considered merely as a structure is erected by the authority of New York. The nature and qualifications of ownership are decided by the State and although certain supervening uses consistent with those qualifications cannot be interfered with by the State, still the foundation of a right to use the land at all must be laid by state law. Not only the existence of the Company but its right to build upon New York land came from New York, as was recognized by the form of the original Act of Congress of 1870, which speaks of any bridge built "in pursuance of" the New York statutes. It did not, as perhaps the New York Consolidation Act did, refer to those statutes simply as documents and incorporate them, it referred to them as the source of the Company's power.

From an early date the State has been recognized as the source of authority in the absence of action by Congress. Willson v. Black-Bird Creek Marsh Co., 2 Pet. 245. Escanaba Co. v. Chicago, 107 U. S. 678. And this Court has been slow to interpret such action as intended to exclude the source of rights from all power in the premises. In a case of navigable waters wholly within a State, over which a right of way had been conveyed to the United States and which the United States was spending con

[blocks in formation]

siderable sums to improve, it was held that, whether or not Congress had power to authorize private persons to build in such waters without the consent of the State, an act making comprehensive regulations of work within them did not manifest a purpose to exclude the previously existing authority of the State over such work. Cummings v. Chicago, 188 U. S. 410, 413, 428, et seq.

But it is said that a different rule applies to an international stream and that Congress has recognized the distinction by the Act of March 3, 1899, c. 425, § 9, 30 Stat. 1151. It is true that that statute makes a distinction, but the distinction is that bridges may be built across navigable waters wholly within the State if approved by the Chief of Engineers and the Secretary of War, but, with regard to waters not wholly within the State, only after the consent of Congress has been obtained. The act does not make Congress the source of the right to build but assumes that the right comes from another source, that is, the State. It merely subjects the right supposed to have been obtained from there to the further condition of getting from Congress consent to action upon the grant.

No doubt in the case of an international bridge the action of a State will be scrutinized in order to avoid any possible ground for international complaint, but the mere fact that the bridge was of that nature would not of itself take away the power of the State over its part of the structure if Congress were silent, any more than the fact that it was a passageway for interstate commerce or crossed a navigable stream. When Congress has acted we see no reason for not leaving the situation as Congress has seemed to leave it, if on the most critical examination we discover no intent to withdraw state control, but on the contrary an assumption that the control is to remain. We have adverted to the implications of the general law of 1899 and have mentioned the statutes that deal specifically with

[blocks in formation]

this bridge. The Act of 1874 declaring the existing bridge lawful was a confirmation which it was natural to seek but was not a repeal of the authority given to the Company in 1870 to build subject to the approval of the Secretary of War. The superstructure has been rebuilt since 1874 and the Secretary of War twice has approved plans showing the carriage and footways. It is true that the Company never has sought to execute that part of the plan, but on the facts that we have stated it appears to us a strange contention that it has contract or property rights not to be required to build the bridge or that Congress by implication has forbidden the State to demand that the plan recognized by everyone from the beginning should at last be carried out.

The conveyance of a part of the land under the bridge to the United States for a public purpose not connected with the administration of the Government did not affect the authority of New York over the residue within the State, and taken in connection with the acts of the Government before and after the grant does not invalidate the statute of 1915 even in part. See Cummings v. Chicago, 188 U. S. 410, 413. Fort Leavenworth R. R. Co. v. Loue, 114 U. S. 525. Omaechevarria v. Idaho, 246 U. S. 343, 346. Judgment affirmed.


Counsel for Parties.



No. 77. Argued November 8, 9, 1920.-Decided November 22, 1920.

One whose intentional conduct violates the prohibitions of a penal statute is not excused by his purpose to keep within the law and his belief that he did so. P. 137.

The offense of engaging without license in the business of lending money on security at more than 6 per cent. interest, in the District of Columbia (Act of February 4, 1913, c. 26, 37 Stat. 657), is committed by a pawnbroker who receives applications, examines pledges and decides upon loans only at a place just beyond the District line, but who maintains an establishment in the District where the pledges are kept and returned, and where intending borrowers may find a free automobile service to take them to him in person, or a paid messenger service, not belonging to the pawnbroker, by which their applications and pledges may be taken to him and the money and pawn tickets brought back and delivered to them. Id. In a criminal case, when undisputed facts, including the testimony of the defendant, clearly establish the offense charged, the judge may say so to the jury, tell them that there is no issue of fact for their determination and instruct them that, while they cannot be constrained to return a verdict of guilty, it is their duty to do so under their obligation as jurors. Id.

Held, that if the defendant suffered any wrong from the manner in which such instructions were given in the present case, it was purely formal, since there could be no doubt of his guilt on the facts admitted; and the error, if any, was cured by § 269, Jud. Code, as amended February 26, 1919. P. 138.

48 App. D. C. 380, affirmed.

THE case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Henry E. Davis for petitioner.

Mr. Robert L. Williams, with whom Mr. F. H. Stephens and Mr. P. H. Marshall were on the brief, for respondent.

[blocks in formation]

MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.

This case comes here upon a writ of certiorari granted to review a judgment of the Court of Appeals that affirmed a conviction of the petitioner of doing business as a pawnbroker and charging more than six per cent. interest, without a license, which is forbidden by the Act of Congress of February 4, 1913, c. 26, 37 Stat. 657. 48 App. D. C. 380.

The external facts are not disputed. The defendant had been in business as a pawnbroker in Washington but anticipating the enactment of the present law removed his headquarters to a place in Virginia at the other end of a bridge leading from the city. He continued to use his former building as a storehouse for his pledges but posted notices on his office there that no applications for loans would be received or examination of pledges made there. He did, however, maintain a free automobile service from there to Virginia and offered to intending borrowers the choice of calling upon him in person or sending their application and security by a dime messenger service not belonging to him but established in his Washington building. If the loan was made, in the latter case the money and pawn ticket were brought back and handed to the borrower in Washington. When a loan was paid off the borrower received a redemption certificate, presented it in Washington and got back his pledge. The defendant estimated the number of persons applying to the Washington office for loans or redemption at fifty to seventy-five a day. His Washington clerk, a witness in his behalf, put it at from seventy-five to one hundred. We may take it that there was a fairly steady stream of callers, as is implied by the automobile service being maintained. It is said with reference to the charge of the judge to which we shall advert that there was a question

« ForrigeFortsett »