Robertson v. Baldwin, No. 334

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBROWN
Citation17 S.Ct. 326,165 U.S. 275,41 L.Ed. 715
PartiesROBERTSON et al. v. BALDWIN
Docket NumberNo. 334
Decision Date25 January 1897

165 U.S. 275
17 S.Ct. 326
41 L.Ed. 715
ROBERTSON et al.

v.

BALDWIN.

No. 334.
January 25, 1897.

This was an appeal from a judgment of the district court for the Northern district of California, rendered August 5, 1895, dismissing a writ of habeas corpus issued upon the petition of Robert Robertson, P. H. Olsen, John Bradley, and Morris Hanson.

The petition set forth, in substance, that the petitioners were unlawfully restrained of their liberty by Barry Baldwin, marshal for the Northern district of California, in the county jail of Alameda county, by virtue of an order of commitment, made by a United State commissioner, committing them for trial upon a charge of disobedience of the lawful orders of the master of the American barkentine Arago; that such com-

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mitment was made without reasonable or probable cause, in this: that at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, petitioners were held on board the Arago against their will and by force, having been theretofore placed on board said vessel by the marshal for the district of Oregon, under the provisions of Rev. St § 4596, subd. 1, and Id. §§ 4598, 4599, the master claiming the right to hold petitioners by virtue of these acts; that sections 4598 and 4599 are unconstitutional, and in violation of section 1 of article 3, and of the fifth amendment to the constitution; that section 4598 was also repealed by congress on June 7, 1872 (17 Stat. 262); and that the first subdivision of section 4596 is in violation of the thirteenth amendment, in that it compels involuntary servitude.

The record was somewhat meager, but it sufficiently appeared that the petitioners had shipped on board the Arago at San Francisco for a voyage to Knappton, in the state of Washington, thence to Valparaiso, and thence to such other foreign ports as the master might direct, and return to a port of discharge in the United States; that they had each signed shipping articles to perform the duties of seamen during the course of the voyage, but, becoming dissatisfied with their employment, they left the vessel at Astoria, in the state of Oregon, and were subsequently arrested, under the provisions of Rev. St. §§ 4596-4599, taken before a justice of the peace, and by him committed to jail until the Arago was ready for sea (some 16 days), when they were taken from the jail by the marshal, and placed on board the Arago against their will; that they refused to 'turn to,' in obedience to the orders of the master, were arrested at San Francisco, charged with refusing to work, in violation of Rev. St. § 4596, were subsequently examined before a commissioner of the circuit court, and by him held to answer such charge before the district court for the Northern district of California.

Shortly thereafter they sued out this writ of habeas corpus, which, upon a hearing before the district court, was dismissed, and an order made remanding the prisoners to the custody of the marshal.

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Whereupon petitioners appealed to this court.

J. H. Ralston, for appellants.

Sol. Gen. Conrad, for appellee.

Mr. Justice BROWN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

Upon what ground the court below dismissed the writ and remanded the petitioners does not appear, but the record raises two questions of some importance: First, as to the constitutionality of Rev. St. §§ 4598, 4599, in so far as they confer jurisdiction upon justices of the peace to apprehend deserting seamen, and return them to their vessel; second, as to the conflict of the same sections, and also section 4596, with the thirteenth amendment to the constitution, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude.

Section 4598, which was taken from section 7 of the act of July 20, 1790, reads as follows:

'Sec. 4598. If any seaman who shall have signed a contract to perform a voyage shall, at any port or place desert, or shall absent himself from such vessel, without leave of the master, or officer commanding in the absence of the master, it shall be lawful for any justice of the peace within the United States, upon the complaint of the master, to issue his warrant to apprehend such deserter, and bring him before such justice; and if it then appears that he has signed a contract within the intent and meaning of this title, and that the voyage agreed for is not finished, or altered, or the contract otherwise dissolved, and that such seaman has deserted the vessel, or absented himself without leave, the justice shall commit him to the house of correction or common jail of the city, town or place, to remain there until the vessel shall be ready to proceed on her voyage, or till the master shall require his discharge, and then to be delivered to the master, he paying all the cost of such commitment, and deducting the same out of the wages due to such seaman.'

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Section 4599, which was taken for section 53 of the shipping commissioners' act of June 7, 1872, authorizes the apprehension of deserting seamen, with or without the assistance of the local public officers or constables, and without a warrant, and their conveyance before any court of justice or magistrate of the state, to be dealt with according to law.

Section 4596, which is also taken from the same act, provides punishment by imprisonment for desertion, refusal to join the vessel, or absence without leave.

1. The first proposition, that congress has no authority under the constitution to vest judicial power in the courts or judicial officers of the several states, originated in an observation of Mr. Justice Story, in Martin v. Hunter's Lessees, 1 Wheat. 304, 330 to the effect that 'congress cannot vest any portion of the judicial power of the United States, except in courts ordained and established by itself.' This was repeated in Houston v. Moore, 5 Wheat. 1, 27; and the same general doctrine has received the approval of the courts of several of the states. U. S. v. Lathrop, 17 Johns. 4; Ely v. Peck, 7 Conn. 239; U. S. v. Campbell (Ohio Com. Pl.) 6 Hall, Law J. 113. These were all actions for penalties, however, wherein the courts held to the familiar doctrine that the courts of one sovereignty will not enforce the penal laws of another. Huntington v. Attrill, 146 U. S. 657, 672, 13 Sup. Ct. 224. In Com. v. Feely, 1 Va. Cas. 325, it was held by the general court of Virginia, in 1813, that the state courts could not take jurisdiction of an indictment for a crime committed against an act of congress.

In Ex parte Knowles, 5 Cal. 300, it was also held that congress had no power to confer jurisdiction upon the courts of a state to naturalize aliens, although, if such power be recognized by the legislature of a state, it may be exercised by the courts of such state of competent jurisdiction.

In State v. Rutter, 12 Niles, Reg. 115, 231, it was held, in 1817, by Judges Bland and Hanson, of Maryland, that congress had no power to authorize justices of the peace to issue warrants for the apprehension of offenders against the laws of

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the United States. A directly contrary view, however, was taken by Judge Cheves, of South Caro lina, in Ex parte Rhodes, 12 Niles, Reg. 264.

The general principle announced by these cases is derived from the third article of the constitution, the first section of which declares that 'the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the congress may from time to time ordain and establish,' the judges of which courts 'shall hold their offices during good behavior,' etc.; and, by the second section, 'the judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of different states; between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.'

The better opinion is that the second section was intended as a constitutional definition of the judicial power (Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419, 475), which the constitution intended to confine to courts created by congress; in other words, that such power extends only to the trial and determination of 'cases' in courts of record, and that congress is still at liberty to authorize the judicial officers of the several states to exercise such power as is ordinarily given to officers of courts not of record,—such, for instance, as the power to take affidavits, to arrest and commit for trial offenders against the laws of the United States, to naturalize aliens, and to perform such other duties as may be regarded as incidental to the judicial power rather than a part of the judicial power itself. This was the view taken by the supreme court of Alabama in Ex parte Gist, 26 Ala. 156, wherein the authority of justices of the peace and other such officers to arrest and commit for a violation of the criminal law of the United States

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was held to be no part of the judicial power within the third article of the constitution. And in the case of Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 16 Pet. 539, it was said that, as to the authority conferred on state magistrates to arrest fugitive slaves and deliver them to their owners, under the act of February 12, 1793, while a difference of opinion existed and might still exist upon this point in different states, whether state magistrates were bound to act under it, no doubt was entertained by this court that state magistrates might, if they chose, exercise the authority, unless prohibited by state...

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255 practice notes
  • Brandywine-Main Line Radio, Inc. v. FCC, No. 71-1181.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • September 25, 1972
    ...165 Id., 341 U.S. at 521-522, 71 S.Ct. at 873 (footnotes omitted). 166 Id., 341 U.S. at 524, 71 S.Ct. at 874, citing Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281, 17 S.Ct. 326, 41 L.Ed. 715 167 Id., citing Gompers v. United States, 233 U.S. 604, 610, 34 S.Ct. 693, 58 L.Ed. 1115 (1914). While the......
  • Burton v. Sills, No. A--20
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • December 16, 1968
    ...(1882); Rohner, [248 A.2d 529] supra, 16 Catholic U.L.Rev. at 70--77; Note, supra, 114 U.Pa.L.Rev. at 553; see also Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281--282, 17 S.Ct. 326, 41 L.Ed. 715, 717 We have no hesitancy in rejecting the plaintiffs' point grounded on the second amendment and come......
  • State v. Williamson, A-65 September Term 2019
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • May 10, 2021
    ...that an accused person shall be confronted with the witnesses against him [does not] prevent the admission of dying declarations." 165 U.S. 275, 282, 17 S.Ct. 326, 41 L.Ed. 715 (1897). In Kirby v. United States, the Court noted the exception's long history:246 N.J. 208 It is scarcely necess......
  • State Highway Commission v. Knight, 31160
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 9, 1934
    ...is not self-executing, so as to entitle the appellee to recover damages from the appellant, an agency of the state. Robinson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275; State v. Harris, 74 Oregon, 573; Ladd & Tilton Bank v. Frawley, 98 Oregon, 241; Winchester v. Howard, 136 Cal. 432; State ex rel. Flanagan v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
254 cases
  • Brandywine-Main Line Radio, Inc. v. FCC, No. 71-1181.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • September 25, 1972
    ...165 Id., 341 U.S. at 521-522, 71 S.Ct. at 873 (footnotes omitted). 166 Id., 341 U.S. at 524, 71 S.Ct. at 874, citing Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281, 17 S.Ct. 326, 41 L.Ed. 715 167 Id., citing Gompers v. United States, 233 U.S. 604, 610, 34 S.Ct. 693, 58 L.Ed. 1115 (1914). While the......
  • Burton v. Sills, No. A--20
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • December 16, 1968
    ...(1882); Rohner, [248 A.2d 529] supra, 16 Catholic U.L.Rev. at 70--77; Note, supra, 114 U.Pa.L.Rev. at 553; see also Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281--282, 17 S.Ct. 326, 41 L.Ed. 715, 717 We have no hesitancy in rejecting the plaintiffs' point grounded on the second amendment and come......
  • State v. Williamson, A-65 September Term 2019
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • May 10, 2021
    ...that an accused person shall be confronted with the witnesses against him [does not] prevent the admission of dying declarations." 165 U.S. 275, 282, 17 S.Ct. 326, 41 L.Ed. 715 (1897). In Kirby v. United States, the Court noted the exception's long history:246 N.J. 208 It is scarcely necess......
  • State Highway Commission v. Knight, 31160
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • April 9, 1934
    ...is not self-executing, so as to entitle the appellee to recover damages from the appellant, an agency of the state. Robinson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275; State v. Harris, 74 Oregon, 573; Ladd & Tilton Bank v. Frawley, 98 Oregon, 241; Winchester v. Howard, 136 Cal. 432; State ex rel. Flanagan v......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • SECURING GUN RIGHTS BY STATUTE: THE RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS OUTSIDE THE CONSTITUTION.
    • United States
    • Michigan Law Review Vol. 120 Nbr. 4, February 2022
    • February 1, 2022
    ...prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons were lawful under the Second Amendment or state analogues."); see also Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 281-82 (1897) (dictum) ("[T]he right of the people to keep and bear arms (art. 2) is not infringed by laws prohibiting the carrying of concea......

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