Sidebilder
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

Chief Justice Parker in Foster v. Essex Bank, 16 Massachusetts, 245, 273, “there is no such thing as a vested right to do wrong."

The remaining points taken by the appellant may be briefly disposed of. One is that the provisions of § 15 of the act of 1906 are not retrospective. This is refuted by a reading of the closing paragraph of the section. Finally it is insisted that, if retrospective in form, the section is void, as an ex post facto law within the prohibition of Art. I, § 9 of the Constitution. It is, however, settled that this prohibition is confined to laws respecting criminal punishments, and has no relation to retrospective legislation of any other description. Cooley's Const. Lim. (6th ed.), 319; Calder v. Bull, 3 Dall. 386, 390; and Rose's Note thereon. The act imposes no punishment upon an alien who has previously procured a certificate of citizenship by fraud or other illegal conduct. It simply deprives him of his ill-gotten privileges. We do not question that an act of legislation having the effect to deprive a citizen of his right to vote because of something in his past conduct which was not an offense at the time it was committed would be void as an ex post facto law. Cummings v. Missouri, 4 Wall. 277, 321; Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 378. But the act under consideration inflicts no such punishment, nor any punishment, upon a lawful citizen. It merely provides that, on good cause shown, the question whether one who claims the privileges of citizenship under the certificate of a court has procured that certificate through fraud or other illegal contrivance, shall be examined and determined in orderly judicial proceedings. The act makes nothing fraudulent or unlawful that was honest and lawful when it was done. It imposes no new penalty upon the wrongdoer. But if, after fair hearing, it is judicially determined that by wrongful conduct hc has obtained a title to citizenship, the act provides that he shull be deprived of a privilege that was never right

[blocks in formation]

fully his. Such a statute is not to be deemed an ex post facto law. The decree under review should be

Affirmed.

R. J. DARNELL (INCORPORATED) v. ILLINOIS

CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY.

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR

THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TENNESSEE.

No. 887. Submitted April 1, 1912.-Decided June 7, 1912.

Under $ 5 of the act of 1891, the jurisdiction of the Federal court as

such must be involved. The direct writ will not lic if the question is one which might arise in a court of general jurisdiction, such as

insufficiency of the pleadings. Under the act of June 18, 1910, 36 Stat. 539, 554, c. 309, the state

courts as well as the appropriate Federal courts can take cognizance of a claim based on an award of reparation of the Interstate Com

merce Commission. Whether plaintiff's declaration in a case for reparation for excessive

rates is sufficient without an averment of previous action by the Interstate Commerce Commission is a question which would arise in any court, state or Federal, in which the case was brought and does not go to the jurisdiction of the Federal court as such; a direct writ of error therefore will not lie from this court under $ 5 of the

Court of Appeals Act of 1891.
Writ of error from 190 Fed. Rep. 656, dismissed.

The facts, which involve the construction of $ 5 of the act of 1891 and direct appeals thereunder to this court, are stated in the opinion.

Mr. Charles N. Burch and Mr. Blewett Lee for defendants in error, in support of the motion.

Mr. W. A. Percy, for plaintiff in error, in opposition thereto.

[blocks in formation]

Memorandum opinion by direction of the court. By MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE.

On motion to dismiss: Plaintiff in error, a Tennessee corporation, was the plaintiff below. One of the defendants is an Illinois and the other a Mississippi corporation. The action was commenced on June 24, 1911, to recover the excess over a reasonable rate exacted by the defendants from the plaintiff for the carriage of hard-wood lumber, such excess being alleged to be two cents per hundred pounds on more than thirty-five million pounds of such lumber shipped by plaintiff between January 20, 1905, and August 1, 1908. It was averred that the excess of the rate exacted over what would have been a reasonable rate to the extent .claimed had been determined by the Interstate Commerce Commission in a proceeding before that body by shippers of hard-wood lumber other than the plaintiff, and that in consequence of the order of the Commission made in the proceeding referred to a reasonable rate had been made effective by the defendants on August 1, 1908. A demurrer of both the defendants was sustained, for the reason that the declaration failed to allege that plaintiff had made application for reparation to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and that this right to reparation had been sustained by that body. The plaintiff declining to plead further, a judgment of dismissal was entered. Thereafter the court filed a certificate to the effect that the cause had been dismissed solely upon the ground of want of jurisdiction. This direct writ of error was then sued out.

The motion to dismiss must prevail. As stated in the certificate of the court below, the order of dismissal was “based solely on the ground that the declaration discloses the infraction of no right arising under or out of the Federal laws or Constitution, of which this court now has jurisdiction.” It is plain, from the record, that

.

[blocks in formation]

this was but the equivalent of saying that the declaration did not state a cause of action because of the failure to allege the existence of a supposed condition precedent to recovery in a court of law, viz: a finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission that a right to reparation was possessed by the plaintiff. But the right to take cognizance of a claim based upon an award of reparation made by the Commission is not confined solely to an appropriate Circuit Court of the United States, but is equally possessed by state courts having general jurisdiction. See amendment to 16 of the Act to Regulate Commerce resulting from the act of June 18, 1910, chap. 309, 36 Stat. 539, 554. Under these circumstances it is clear that the question of whether the plaintiff was entitled to the relief prayed in the absence of an averment of previous action by the Interstate Commerce Commission involved merely the determination of whether there was a cause of action stated, and hence that under these circum-, stances this issue did not call in question the jurisdiction of the court below, as a Federal court, becomes equally clear when it is considered that exactly the same question concerning the sufficiency of the averments to justify affording relief would have arisen for decision had the suit been pending in a state court of general authority having jurisdiction over the person. When the controversy comes to be rightly understood, it is obvious that its determination was within the scope of the jurisdiction of the court below, and that its decision on the issue presented is susceptible of being reviewed in the regular course of judicial proceeding and does not come within the purview of the authority to directly review in certain cases conferred upon this court by the act of 1891. Bache v. Hunt, 193 U. S. 523; Fore River Shipbuilding Company v. Hagg, 219 U. S. 175; United States v. Congress Construction Company, 222 U. S. 199.

Writ of error dismissed.

[blocks in formation]

CRESWILL v. GRAND LODGE KNIGHTS OF

PYTHIAS OF GEORGIA.

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA.

No. 235. Argued May 2, 3, 1912.—Decided June 10, 1912.

Where defendant sets up the claim that it enjoys right or privilege

sought to be enjoined under authority of an act of Congress and the state court denies the right, the judgment is reviewable here

under $ 237 of the new Judicial Code ($ 709, Rev. Stat.). Whether persons have a right to be incorporated in a State as a state

branch of an organization incorporated in the District of Columbia

under an act of Congress is a non-Federal question. Quære: Whether the principles applicable to use of trade-marks and

trade-names are applicable to the use of names of fraternal organizations having a main organization with branches in the several

States. The doctrine of laches applies to the use of a name of a fraternal cor

poration and equity will not grant relief against the use of the name by parties who have been using it for many years without objection, at the instance of the older organization, there not appearing to be

any fraud or intent to deceive the public. While this court does not as a general rule review findings of fact of

the state court on writ of error, where a Federal right has been denied as a result of a finding of fact and it is contended there is no evidence to support that finding and the evidence is in the record, the resulting question is open for decision; and where a conclusion of law as to a Federal right and a finding of fact are so intermingled as to require the facts to be analyzed and dissected so as to pass on

the Federal question this court has power to do so. In this case held that:

There was no evidence to support a finding that the defendants

below were attempting by their application for incorporation in a State to use the name Knights of Pythias so as to deceive the public and work pecuniary damage to the older organiza

tion of that name, the complainant. The long-continued acquiescence of the older organization of the

Knights of Pythias in the use of the name by the junior organization prior to the attempt of the latter to have this par

« ForrigeFortsett »