195 U.S. 138 (1904), 683, Dorr v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 683
Citation:195 U.S. 138, 24 S.Ct. 808, 49 L.Ed. 128
Party Name:Dorr v. United States
Case Date:May 31, 1904
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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195 U.S. 138 (1904)

24 S.Ct. 808, 49 L.Ed. 128

Dorr

v.

United States

No. 683

United States Supreme Court

May 31, 1904

Argued April 22, 1904

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

Syllabus

While it is settled that the Constitution of the United States is the only source of power authorizing action by any branch of the federal government, it is equally well settled that the United States may acquire territory in the exercise of the treatymaking power by direct cession as the result of war, and in making effective terms of peace and for that purpose has the powers of other sovereign nations.

Congress has the right to make laws for the government of territories, without being subject to all the restrictions which are imposed upon it when passing laws for the United States considered as a political body of states in union, and until territory ceded by treaty has been incorporated into the United States, it is to be governed under Congress subject only to such constitutional restrictions upon its powers as are applicable to the situation.

It is evident, from Article IX of the treaty with Spain ceding the Philippine Islands that the intention of the framers of the treaty was to reserve to Congress, so far as it could constitutionally be done, a free hand in dealing with the territory ceded by the treaty.

Congress has not up to the present time incorporated the Philippine Islands into the United States, and by an express provision of the Act of July 1, 1902, c 1891, Rev.Stat., by which force and effect is given to the Constitution and laws of the United States in the territories, does not apply to the Philippine Islands.

The power to govern territory implied in the right to acquire it, and given to Congress in Article IV, § 3 of the Constitution, to whatever other limitations it may be subject, does not require Congress to exact for ceded territory, not made a part of the United States by Congressional action, a system of laws which shall include the right of trial by jury, and the Constitution does not, without legislation and of its own force, carry such right to territory so situated.

Under §§ 7 and 8 of the libel law enacted by the Philippine Commission, permitting a fair and true report of judicial, legislative and public official proceedings as privileged communications but excluding libelous remarks or comments from the privilege, the headlines "Traitor, Seducer, Perjurer -- Wife would have killed him," over the report of a trial, although in quotation marks, are not within the privilege given by the act, and, if proved to be without basis, are libelous.

The power of Congress to authorize the temporary government, such as

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that established under the Spooner Resolution of March 2, 1901, for the Philippine Islands, has been frequently exercised and is not now open to question, and the Philippine Commission established under that act had power to enact the libel law involved in this case.

The facts, which involved the question whether, in the absence of a statute of Congress expressly conferring the right of trial by jury, when demanded by the accused, is a necessary incident of judicial procedure in the Philippine Islands, are stated in the opinion of the court.

DAY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the Court.

The case presents the question whether, in the absence of a statute of Congress expressly conferring the right, trial by jury is a necessary incident of judicial procedure in the Philippine Islands where demand for trial by that method has been made by the accused and denied by the courts established in the islands.

The recent consideration by this Court, and the full discussion had in the opinions delivered in the so-called "Insular Cases," renders superfluous any attempt to reconsider the constitutional relation of the powers of the government to territory acquired by a treaty cession to the United States. De Lima v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 1; Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244. The opinions rendered in those cases cover every phase of the question, either legal or historical, and it would be useless to undertake to add to the elaborate consideration of the subject had therein. In the still more recent case of Hawaii v. Mankichi, 190 U.S. 197, the right to a jury trial in outlying

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territory of the United States was under consideration. For the present purpose, it is only necessary to state certain conclusions which are deemed to be established by prior adjudications, and are decisive of this case.

It may be regarded as settled that the Constitution of the United States is the only source of power authorizing action by any branch of the federal government.

The government of the United States was born of the Constitution, and all powers which it enjoys or may exercise must be either derived expressly or by implication from that instrument.

Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244, 288, and cases cited. It is equally well settled that the United States may acquire territory in the exercise of the treatymaking power by direct cession as the result of war, and in making effectual the terms of peace, and for that purpose has the powers of other sovereign nations. This principle has been recognized by this Court from its earliest decisions. The convention which framed the Constitution of the United States, in view of the territory already possessed and the possibility of acquiring more, inserted in that instrument, in Article IV, § 3, a grant of express power to Congress "to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States."

As early as the February term, 1810, of this Court, in the case of Sere v. Pitot, 6 Cranch 332, Chief Justice Marshall, delivering the opinion of the Court, said:

The power of governing and of legislating for a territory is the inevitable consequence of the right to acquire and to hold territory. Could this position be contested, the Constitution of the United States declares that "Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States." Accordingly, we find Congress possessing and exercising the absolute and undisputed power of governing and legislating for the Territory of Orleans. Congress has

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given them a legislative, an executive, and a judiciary, with such powers as it has been their will to assign to those departments respectively.

And later, the same eminent judge, delivering the opinion of the Court in the leading case upon the subject, American Insurance Co. v. Canter, 1 Pet. 511, 542, says:

The Constitution confers absolutely on the government of the Union the powers of making war and of making treaties; consequently that government possesses the power of acquiring territory, either by conquest or by treaty.

The usage of the world is, if a nation be not entirely subdued, to consider the holding of conquered territory as a mere military occupation until its fate shall be determined at the treaty of peace. If it be ceded by the treaty, the acquisition is confirmed, and the ceded territory becomes a part of the nation to which it is annexed, either on the terms stipulated in the treaty of cession or on such as its new master shall impose. On such transfer of territory, it has never been held that the relations of the inhabitants with each other undergo any change. Their relations with their former sovereign are dissolved, and new relations are created between them and the government which has acquired their territory. The same act which transfers their country transfers the allegiance of those who remain in it, and the law, which may be denominated [24 S.Ct. 810] political, is necessarily changed, although that which regulates the intercourse and general conduct of individuals remains in force until altered by the newly created power of the state.

On the 2d of February, 1819, Spain ceded Florida to the United States. The sixth article of the treaty of cession contains the following provision:

The inhabitants of the territories which His Catholic Majesty cedes the United States by this treaty shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States as soon as may be consistent with the principles of the federal Constitution, and admitted to the enjoyment of the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States.

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This treaty is the law of the land, and admits the inhabitants of Florida to the enjoyment of the privileges, rights, and immunities of the citizens of the United States. It is unnecessary to inquire whether this is not their condition, independent of stipulation. They do not, however, participate in political power; they do not share in the government till Florida shall become a state. In the meantime, Florida continues to be a territory of the United States, governed by virtue of that clause in the Constitution which empowers Congress "to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States."

While these cases, and others which are cited in the late case of Downes v. Bidwell, supra, sustain the right of Congress to make laws for the government of territories, without being subject to all the restrictions which are imposed upon that body when passing laws for the United States, considered as a political body of states in union, the exercise of the power expressly granted to govern the territories is not without limitations. Speaking of this power, Mr. Justice Curtis, in the case of Scott v. Sandford, 19 How. 614, said:

If, then, this clause does contain a power to legislate respecting the territory, what are the limits of that power?

To this I answer that, in common with all the other legislative powers of Congress, if finds limits in the express...

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