Ex parte Garland

Decision Date01 December 1866
Citation18 L.Ed. 366,4 Wall. 333,71 U.S. 333
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

ON the 2d of July, 1862, Congress, by 'An act to prescribe an oath of office, and for other purposes,'1 enacted:

'That hereafter every person elected or appointed to any office of honor or profit under the government of the United States, either in the civil, military, or naval departments of the public service, excepting the President of the United States, shall, before entering upon the duties of such office, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation:

"I, A. B., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have never voluntarily borne arms against the United States since I have been a citizen thereof; that I have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility thereto; that I have neither sought nor accepted, not attempted to exercise the functions of any office whatever, under any authority or pretended authority in hostility to the United States; that I have not yielded a voluntary support to any pretended government, authority, power, or constitution with the United States, hostile or inimical thereto. And I do further swear (or affirm) that, to the best of my knowledge and ability, I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter, so help me God;' &c.

'Any person who shall falsely take the said oath shall be guilty of perjury; and, on conviction, in addition to the penalties now prescribed for that offence, shall be deprived of his office, and rendered incapable forever after of holding any office or place under the United States.'

On the 24th of January, 1865,2 Congress passed a supplementary act extending these provisions so as to embrace attorneys and counsellors of the courts of the United States. It is as follows:

'No person, after the date of this act, shall be admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, or at any time after the fourth of March next, shall be admitted to the bar of any Circuit or District Court of the United States, or of the Court of Claims, as an attorney or counsellor of such court, or shall be allowed to appear and be heard in any such court, by virtue of any previous admission, or any special power of attorney, unless he shall have first taken and subscribed the oath prescribed in 'An act to prescribe an oath of office and for other purposes,' approved July 2d, 1862. And any person who shall falsely take the said oath shall be guilty of perjury, and, on conviction,' &c.

By the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Supreme Court has power to make rules and decide upon the qualifications of attorneys.

At the December Term of 1860, A. H. Garland, Esquire, was admitted as an attorney and counsellor of the court, and took and subscribed the oath then required. The second rule, as it then existed, was as follows:- 'It shall be requisite to the admission of attorneys and counsellors to practise in this court, that they shall have been such for three years past in the Supreme Courts of the States to which they respectively belong, and that their private and professional character shall appear to be fair.

'They shall respectively take the following oath or affirmation, viz.:

"I, A. B., do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will demean myself as an attorney and counsellor of this court, uprightly, and according to law, and that I will support the Constitution of the United States."

There was then no other qualification for attorneys in this court than such as are named in this rule.

In March, 1865, this rule was changed by the addition of a clause requiring an oath, in conformity with the act of Congress.

At the same term at which he was admitted, Mr. Garland appeared, and presented printed argument in several cases in which he was counsel. His name continued on the roll of attorneys from then to the present time; but the late Rebellion intervened, and all business in which he was concerned at the time of his admission remained undisposed of. In some of the cases alluded to fees were paid, and in others they were partially paid. Having taken part in the Rebellion against the United States, by being in the Congress of the so-called Confederate States, from May, 1861, until the final surrender of the forces of such Confederate States first in the lower house, and afterwards in the Senate of that body, as the representative of the State of Arkansas, of which he was a citizen—Mr. Garland could not take the oath prescribed by the acts of Congress before mentioned, and the rule of the court of March, 1865.

The State, in May, 1861, passed an ordinance of secession, purporting to withdraw herself from the Union; and afterwards, in the same year, by another ordinance, attached herself to the so-called Confederate States.

In July, 1865, Mr. Garland received from the President a pardon, by which the chief magistrate, reciting that Mr. Garland, 'by taking part in the late Rebellion against the government, had made himself liable to heavy pains and penalties,' &c., did thereby

'Grant to the said A. H. Garland a FULL PRADON AND AMNESTY for all offences by him committed, arising from participation, direct or implied, in the said Rebellion, conditioned as follows: This pardon to begin and take effect from the day on which the said A. H. Garland shall take the oath prescribed in the proclamation of the President, dated May 29th, 1865; and to be void and of no effect if the said A. H. Garland shall hereafter at any time acquire any property whatever in slaves, or make use of slave labor; and that he first pay all costs which may have accrued in any proceedings hitherto instituted against his person or property. And upon the further condition that the said A. H. Garland shall notify the Secretary of State in writing that he has received and accepted the foregoing pardon.'

The oath required was taken by Mr. Garland and annexed to the pardon. It was to the purport that he would thenceforth 'faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the union of the States thereunder; and that he would in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which had been made during the existing Rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves.'

Mr. Garland now produced this pardon, and by petition filed in court asked permission to continue to practise as an attorney and counsellor of the court, without taking the oath required by the act of January 24th, 1865, and the rule of the court. He rested his application principally upon two grounds:

1st. That the act of January 24th, 1865, so far as it affected his status in the court, was unconstitutional and void; and,

2d. That, if the act were constitutional, he was released from compliance with its provisions by the pardon of the President.

Messrs. Reverdy Johnson and M. H. Carpenter, for the petitioner, Mr. Garland, who had filed a brief of his own presenting fully his case.

I. In discussing the constitutionality of any law of Congress, the real question is, would the act accomplish a result which the Constitution forbids? If so, no matter what may be the form of the act, it is unconstitutional.

This court, in Green v. Biddle,3 McCracken v. Hayward,5 has held, that although the States may legislate at pleasure upon remedies merely, yet if the practical effect of such legislation, in a given case, be to burden the right of a creditor unreasonably, or withdraw the debtor's property from the reach of the creditor, then such law is unconstitutional, as impairing the obligations of the contract. In Bronson v. Kinzie, C. J. Taney says:

'Whatever belongs merely to the remedy may be altered according to the will of the State, provided the alteration does not impair the obligation of the contract. But if that effect is produced, it is immaterial whether it is done by acting on the remedy, or directly on the contract itself. In either case it is prohibited by the Constitution.'

Again he says:

'And no one, we presume, would say that there is any substantial difference between a retrospective law declaring a particular contract or class of contracts to be abrogated and void, and one which took away all remedy to enforce them, or incumbered it with conditions that render it useless or impracticable to pursue it.'

In the Passenger Cases,6 this court held that State laws, nominally mere health or police laws, were unconstitutional, because, in their effect, they amounted to a regulation of commerce; and, therefore, were an exercise of power vested exclusively in the Federal government.

The judges of this court hold office during good behavior. An act of Congress passed to-day, requiring them to take an oath that they were not above forty years of age, and providing, as the act in question does in relation to attorneys, that, 'after the 4th March next, no justice of this court should be admitted to his seat, unless he should take such oath, even if he were previously a justice of said court,' would be a palpable violation of the Constitution, because it would amount to a disqualification to any man above forty years of age, and be equivalent to providing that no justice of this court should remain in office beyond that age; while the Constitution provides that the judges shall hold during good behavior.

The Constitution provides,7 that 'no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.' Now, an act of Congress, or of a State, declaring that before any heir should enter into his ancestral estates he should take an oath that his ancestor had not been attainted of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
673 cases
  • United States v. General Motors Corporation
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • October 24, 1975
    ...quite different sanctions, such as exclusion from practice of law in the courts of the United States, Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 377, 71 U.S. 333, 18 L.Ed. 366 (1866), and denial of federal employment, United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 316, 66 S.Ct. 1073, 90 L.Ed. 1252 (1946). Thus......
  • Coe v. Davidson
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals Court of Appeals
    • November 18, 1974
    ...1252 and Cummings v. Missouri (1866) 4 Wall. 277, 71 U.S. 277, 18 L.Ed. 356; ex post facto law theory--Ex parte Garland (1866) 4 Wall. 333, 71 U.S. 333, 18 L.Ed. 366; Cummings v. Missouri, Supra; lack of scienter requirement--Wieman v. Updegraff (1952) 344 U.S. 183, 73 S.Ct. 215, 97 L.Ed. 2......
  • Vogel v. Los Angeles County
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • December 21, 1967
    ...of qualification and eligibility for employment. 'Cummings v. State of Missouri, 1867, 4 Wall. 277, 18 L.Ed. 356, and Ex parte Garland, 1867, 4 Wall. 333, 18 L.Ed. 366, the leading cases in this Court applying the federal constitutional prohibitions against bills of attainder, recognized th......
  • Fletcher v. Graham, No. 2005-SC-1009-MR.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky
    • May 18, 2006
    ...378 (Alexander Hamilton) (Garry Wills ed., 1982)). Once called the executive's "benign prerogative of mercy," Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 71 U.S. 333, 380, 18 L.Ed. 366 (1866), the pardon/amnesty power has evolved to serve as a mechanism which simultaneously checks and balances the power......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 books & journal articles
  • From a Dream to Reality Check: Protecting the Rights of Tomorrow's Conditional Legal Resident Enlistees
    • United States
    • Military Law Review No. 216, July 2013
    • July 1, 2013
    ...law. Id. 191 326 U.S. 136 (1948). 192 Id . at 154. 193 Id . at 147 (citing Cummings v. Missouri, 71 U.S. 277 (1866); Ex parte Garland , 71 U.S. 333 (1866)). 36 MILITARY LAW REVIEW [Vol. 216 specifically noted that they were dealing with deportation of aliens whose roots may have become “dee......
  • The most-cited Federalist Papers.
    • United States
    • Constitutional Commentary No. 1998, December 1998
    • December 22, 1998
    ...Evans v. Gore, 253 U.S. 245, 249 (1920); McAllister v. United States, 141 U.S. 174, 197 (1891) (Field, J., dissenting); Ex Parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333, 388 (1866) (Miller, J., dissenting). Note that only two of the citations to No. 78 are from the nineteenth century, and both are in dissenti......
  • Table of Cases
    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Suplemmentary Materials
    • January 1, 2007
    ...S.Ct. 1005, 83 L.Ed.2d 1016 (1985), 100, 147, 211-12, 220-21, 228, 247, 321, 329, 349, 396, 398, 548, 614-15, 757-60 Garland, Ex parte, 71 U.S. 333, 18 L.Ed. 366 (1866), Garner v. Board of Public Works of Los Angeles, 341 U.S. 716, 71 S.Ct. 909, 95 L.Ed. 1317 (1951), 1531 Gavieres v. United......
    • United States
    • Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 44 No. 3, June 2021
    • June 22, 2021
    ...Schick v. Reed, 419 U.S. 256, 266 (1974). (139.) Id. at 263 (quoting 2 FARRAND, supra note 16, at 626), 266. (140.) Ex parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333 (141.) Id. at 380; see also Larkin, Guiding Clemency, supra note 3, at 473-74 ("It would be difficult to find a Supreme Court decision describing......
  • 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