236 U.S. 216 (1915), 645, Brolan v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 645
Citation:236 U.S. 216, 35 S.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544
Party Name:Brolan v. United States
Case Date:February 23, 1915
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 216

236 U.S. 216 (1915)

35 S.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544

Brolan

v.

United States

No. 645

United States Supreme Court

February 23, 1915

Submitted January 5, 1915

ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

Syllabus

In a case from the district court, if the power to review attaches because of a constitutional question, that authority gives rise to the duty of determining all the questions involved, including those that otherwise are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the district court, but if the constitutional question asserted as the basis for jurisdiction of this Court is frivolous, this Court has no power to review it or any of the other questions involved. The writ of error must be dismissed.

The absolute power expressly conferred upon Congress to regulate foreign commerce involves the existence of power to prohibit importations and to punish the act of knowingly concealing or moving merchandise which has been imported in successful violation of such prohibition. Keller v. United States, 213 U.S. 138, distinguished.

The contention in this case that § 2 of the Act of February 9, 1909, c. 100, 35 Stat. 614, regulating the importation of opium is unconstitutional as beyond the power of Congress has been so foreclosed by prior decisions of this Court that it is frivolous, and affords no basis for jurisdiction of this Court under § 238, Judicial Code.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court under § 238, Judicial Code, are stated in the opinion.

Page 217

WHITE, J., lead opinion

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The indictment against the plaintiffs in error contained two counts: The first charged a conspiracy to wrongfully import opium into the United States in violation of the first portion of § 2 of the Act of February 9, 1909, c. 100, 35 Stat. 614. The second charged a conspiracy to unlawfully receive, conceal, and facilitate the transportation of opium which had been wrongfully imported into the United States with knowledge of such previous illegal importation, in violation of the latter part of the section referred to. The first count was quashed on the ground that the overt acts alleged occurred after the illegal importation or smuggling which was counted on. On the second count, there was a conviction and sentence, and this direct writ of error to the trial court is prosecuted to reverse the same. The right to a reversal rests upon two propositions: the one, that the clause of the section upon which the second count was based is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States because beyond the legislative power of Congress to enact, and because, moreover, its provisions intrinsically constitute a usurpation of the powers reserved to the states by the Constitution, and the other, the insistence that various material errors were committed by the trial court during the progress of the case aside from the constitutionality of the statute.

Our jurisdiction to directly review depends upon the constitutional question, since the other matters relied upon are, as a general rule, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit, although, if power to review attaches to the case because of the constitutional question, that authority gives rise to the

Page 218

duty to determine all the questions involved. Burton v. United States, 196 U.S. 283; Williamson v. United States, 207 U.S. 425, 432; Billings v. United States, 232 U.S. 261, 276. Under these circumstances, to prevent a disregard of the distribution of appellate power made by the Judicial Code, and to see to it that there is something on which our jurisdiction to review can rest, it behooves us in this, as in all other cases, to see whether the question upon which our power depends is really presented, and if not, because, although in form arising, it is in substance so wholly wanting in merit as to be frivolous, to decline the exercise of jurisdiction. Farrell v. O'Brien, 199 U.S. 89, 100; Goodrich v. Ferris, 214 U.S. 71, 79; Hendricks v. United States, 223 U.S. 178.

Coming to that subject, the entire absence of all ground for the assertion that there was a want of power in Congress for any reason to adopt the provision in question is so conclusively foreclosed by previous decisions as to leave no room for doubt as to the wholly unsubstantial and frivolous character of the...

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74 practice notes
  • 978 F.Supp. 266 (S.D.Tex. 1997), C. A. H-95-4114, Arbitration Between Trans Chemical Ltd. and China Nat. Machinery Import and Export Corp., Matter of
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Southern District of Texas
    • 7 Julio 1997
    ...Angeles, 441 U.S. 434, 445-47, 447-48, 448 n. 13, 99 S.Ct. 1813, 1820, 1821, 1821 n. 13, 60 L.Ed.2d 336 (1979); Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 221-22, 35 S.Ct. 285, 287, 59 L.Ed. 544 (1915); Chemical Waste Mgt., Inc. v. Templet, 770 F.Supp. 1142, 1152, 1152 n. 50 (M.D.LA. 1991) (cit......
  • The Market-Participant Exception And The Dormant Foreign Commerce Clause
    • United States
    • Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal Nbr. V-2, April 2007
    • 1 Abril 2007
    ...See supra text accompanying note 37. R [138] See supra note 3. R [139] Of course, it is not exactly true that the words are the same; Congress can regulate trade "with foreign Nations, and among the several States" (U.S. CONST. art. I, ...
  • 268 F. 943 (8th Cir. 1920), 5586, Grammer v. Fenton
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • 5 Noviembre 1920
    ...cannot be a basis for jurisdiction of this court (Berkman v. U.S., 250 U.S. 114, 39 Sup.Ct. 411, 63 L.Ed. 877; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 Sup.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544). Also see Lambert v. Barrett, 157 U.S. 697, 15 Sup.Ct. 722, 39 L.Ed. 865. The further argument is that a fair c......
  • 248 U.S. 542 (1918), 60, Sears v. Inhabitants of Town of Nahant
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 23 Diciembre 1918
    ...U.S. 225, 232, 27 Sup. Ct. 476, 51 L.Ed. 779; Goodrich v. Ferris, 214 U.S. 71, 79, 29 Sup. Ct. 580, 53 L.Ed. 914; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 Sup. Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544; (3) Consolidated Turnpike Co. v. Norfolk, etc., R. Co., 228 U.S. 596, 599, 33 Sup. Ct. 605, 57 L.Ed. 982; C......
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73 cases
  • 978 F.Supp. 266 (S.D.Tex. 1997), C. A. H-95-4114, Arbitration Between Trans Chemical Ltd. and China Nat. Machinery Import and Export Corp., Matter of
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 5th Circuit Southern District of Texas
    • 7 Julio 1997
    ...Angeles, 441 U.S. 434, 445-47, 447-48, 448 n. 13, 99 S.Ct. 1813, 1820, 1821, 1821 n. 13, 60 L.Ed.2d 336 (1979); Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 221-22, 35 S.Ct. 285, 287, 59 L.Ed. 544 (1915); Chemical Waste Mgt., Inc. v. Templet, 770 F.Supp. 1142, 1152, 1152 n. 50 (M.D.LA. 1991) (cit......
  • 268 F. 943 (8th Cir. 1920), 5586, Grammer v. Fenton
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Courts of Appeals Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
    • 5 Noviembre 1920
    ...cannot be a basis for jurisdiction of this court (Berkman v. U.S., 250 U.S. 114, 39 Sup.Ct. 411, 63 L.Ed. 877; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 Sup.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544). Also see Lambert v. Barrett, 157 U.S. 697, 15 Sup.Ct. 722, 39 L.Ed. 865. The further argument is that a fair c......
  • 248 U.S. 542 (1918), 60, Sears v. Inhabitants of Town of Nahant
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 23 Diciembre 1918
    ...U.S. 225, 232, 27 Sup. Ct. 476, 51 L.Ed. 779; Goodrich v. Ferris, 214 U.S. 71, 79, 29 Sup. Ct. 580, 53 L.Ed. 914; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 Sup. Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544; (3) Consolidated Turnpike Co. v. Norfolk, etc., R. Co., 228 U.S. 596, 599, 33 Sup. Ct. 605, 57 L.Ed. 982; C......
  • 248 U.S. 543 (1918), 61, Sears v. Inhabitants of Town of Nahant
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States Supreme Court
    • 23 Diciembre 1918
    ...U.S. 225, 232, 27 Sup. Ct. 476, 51 L.Ed. 779; Goodrich v. Ferris, 214 U.S. 71, 79, 29 Sup. Ct. 580, 53 L.Ed. 914; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 Sup. Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544; (3) Consolidated Turnpike Co. v. Norfolk, etc., R. Co., 228 U.S. 596, 599, 33 Sup. Ct. 605, 57 L.Ed. 982; C......
  • Free signup to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The Market-Participant Exception And The Dormant Foreign Commerce Clause
    • United States
    • Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal Nbr. V-2, April 2007
    • 1 Abril 2007
    ...See supra text accompanying note 37. R [138] See supra note 3. R [139] Of course, it is not exactly true that the words are the same; Congress can regulate trade "with foreign Nations, and among the several States" (U.S. CONST. art. I, ...