Brolan v. United States, No. 645

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWhite
Citation35 S.Ct. 285,236 U.S. 216,59 L.Ed. 544
PartiesJ. J. BROLAN, Joseph McKenna, G. B. Balk, et al., Plffs. in Err., v. UNITED STATES
Decision Date23 February 1915
Docket NumberNo. 645

236 U.S. 216
35 S.Ct. 285
59 L.Ed. 544
J. J. BROLAN, Joseph McKenna, G. B. Balk, et al., Plffs. in Err.,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 645.
Submitted January 5, 1915.
Decided February 23, 1915.

Messrs. Edward M. Cleary, John L. McNab, Bert Schlesinger, S. C. Wright, and P. S. Ehrlich for plaintiffs in error.

Page 217

Assistant Attorney General Warren for defendant in error.

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 (chap. 100, 35 Stat. at L. 614, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8801). 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, 49 L. ed. 482, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 243; Williamson v. United States, 207 U. S. 425, 432, 52 L. ed. 278, 284, 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 163; Billings v. United States, 232 U. S. 261, 276, 58 L. ed. 596, 603, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 42. 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 (O'Callaghan v. O'Brien) 199 U. S. 89, 100, 50 L. ed. 101, 107, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 727; Goodrich v. Ferris, 214 U. S. 71, 79, 53 L. ed. 914, 917, 29 Sup. Ct. Rep. 580; Hendricks v. United States, 223 U. S. 178, 56 L. ed. 394, 32 Sup. Ct. Rep. 313.

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 constitutional question based upon such contention. In Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U. S. 470, 48 L. ed. 525, 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 349, in stating the previously settled doctrine on the subject, it was said, p. 492:

'The power to regulate commerce with foreign nations is expressly conferred upon Congress, and, being an enumerated power, is complete in itself, acknowledging no limitations other than those prescribed in the Constitution. Lottery Case (Champion v. Ames) 188 U. S. 321, 353-356, 47 L. ed. 492, 500, 501, 23 Sup. Ct. Rep. 321, 13 Am. Crim. Rep. 561; Leisy v. Hardin, 135 U. S. 100...

To continue reading

Request your trial
42 practice notes
  • United States v. Baston, Nos. 14–14444
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 24, 2016
    ...commerce." Atl. Cleaners & Dyers v. United States, 286 U.S. 427, 434, 52 S.Ct. 607, 76 L.Ed. 1204 (1932) ; accord Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 218–19, 35 S.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544 (1915). "Although the Constitution grants Congress power to regulate commerce ‘with foreign Nations' an......
  • U.S. v. Glasser, No. 83-5909
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • December 27, 1984
    ...the border "is complete in itself, acknowledging no limitation other than those prescribed in the Constitution." Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 218, 35 S.Ct. 285, 285, 59 L.Ed. 544 (1915) (quoting Buttfield, supra, 192 U.S. at 492, 24 S.Ct. at 353). As Chief Justice Burger emphasize......
  • United States v. Whittenberg, No. 343.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • January 8, 1938
    ...245 U.S. 618, 38 S.Ct. 219, 62 L. Ed. 513; Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U.S. 470, 24 S.Ct. 349, 48 L.Ed. 525; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 S.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544; Oregon-Washington R. & Nav. Co. v. Washington, 270 U.S. 87, 46 S.Ct. 279, 70 L.Ed. 482; Thornton v. United States, ......
  • Arbitration between Trans Chem. Ltd. and China Nat., Civil Action No. H-95-4114.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • July 7, 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) (citi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • United States v. Baston, Nos. 14–14444
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • March 24, 2016
    ...commerce." Atl. Cleaners & Dyers v. United States, 286 U.S. 427, 434, 52 S.Ct. 607, 76 L.Ed. 1204 (1932) ; accord Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 218–19, 35 S.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544 (1915). "Although the Constitution grants Congress power to regulate commerce ‘with foreign Nations' an......
  • U.S. v. Glasser, No. 83-5909
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • December 27, 1984
    ...the border "is complete in itself, acknowledging no limitation other than those prescribed in the Constitution." Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 218, 35 S.Ct. 285, 285, 59 L.Ed. 544 (1915) (quoting Buttfield, supra, 192 U.S. at 492, 24 S.Ct. at 353). As Chief Justice Burger emphasize......
  • United States v. Whittenberg, No. 343.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • January 8, 1938
    ...245 U.S. 618, 38 S.Ct. 219, 62 L. Ed. 513; Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U.S. 470, 24 S.Ct. 349, 48 L.Ed. 525; Brolan v. United States, 236 U.S. 216, 35 S.Ct. 285, 59 L.Ed. 544; Oregon-Washington R. & Nav. Co. v. Washington, 270 U.S. 87, 46 S.Ct. 279, 70 L.Ed. 482; Thornton v. United States, ......
  • Arbitration between Trans Chem. Ltd. and China Nat., Civil Action No. H-95-4114.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • July 7, 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) (citi......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT