Smith v. United States, 2,522.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Citation157 F. 721
Docket Number2,522.
PartiesSMITH et al. v. UNITED STATES.
Decision Date12 November 1907

157 F. 721

SMITH et al.
v.
UNITED STATES.

No. 2,522.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

November 12, 1907


[157 F. 722]

Chester H. Krum and Moses Whybark (W. H. Miller and Oliver & Oliver, on the brief), for plaintiffs in error.

Assistant Attorney General Russell (E. P. Johnson and Henry W. Blodgett, on the brief), for defendant in error.

Before VAN DEVANTER and ADAMS, Circuit Judges, and RINER, District judge.

ADAMS, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiffs in error, Charles M. Smith, Sr., Charles M. Smith, Jr., William Woods, Floyd Woods, Benjamin Field, Benjamin Stone, and W. Lee Rodgers, were jointly indicted with James E. Smith and Rex Smith in the court below in 44 counts for violating the provisions of section 5508 of the Revised Statutes (U.S. Comp St. 1901, p. 3712). They were charged in each count with conspiring to injure, oppress, threaten, and intimidate a citizen of the United States in the free exercise and enjoyment of rights and privileges secured to him by the Constitution and laws of the United States. James E. and Rex Smith were found not guilty by direction of the court. The other defendants were found not guilty by like direction on 20 counts, and on all the remaining counts which were submitted to the jury, except the eleventh, they were found not guilty. On that they were found guilty. They were each sentenced to imprisonment for terms ranging from three years and six months to one year and six months and to pay a fine ranging from $5,000 to $100 and costs. The present writ of error challenges the judgment for errors alleged to have been committed at the trial.

Omitting formal parts, the eleventh count of the indictment is as follows:

'That on the 1st day of June, 1906, the defendants (naming them) did unlawfully and feloniously conspire, combine confederate and agree together to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate a certain citizen of the United States, to wit, John Reed, in the free exercise and enjoyment of rights and privileges secured to him by the Constitution and laws of the United States [157 F. 723] to wit, the right to the free exercise and enjoyment of freedom from involuntary servitude and slavery; that in pursuance of said unlawful and felonious conspiracy, combination, confederation, and agreement, and to effect the object thereof, the said defendants (naming them) did then and there unlawfully and feloniously arrest, hold, imprison, and guard him, the said John Reed, and then and there unlawfully and feloniously compel by threats and intimidation him, the said John Reed, to then and there work and labor involuntarily and against his will for said defendants (naming them), contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the United States.'

A demurrer was first filed, challenging the legal sufficiency of the indictment on several grounds. Those specified and relied on in argument are: (1) The right to freedom from involuntary servitude and slavery against the free exercise of which the defendants are charged with conspiring is not a right secured to a citizen by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and therefore the offense as laid in the indictment is not within the contemplation of section 5508. (2) The charge of conspiracy as laid in the indictment is not complete in itself, and because it cannot be aided by acts charged to have been done in furtherance of it is insufficient. (3) The indictment merely follows the language of the statute when it should have individuated the offense. (4) The indictment is not sufficiently explicit to advise the accused of the nature of the charge against them or enable them intelligently to prepare to meet it. (5) The indictment fails to aver that the accused were not held in involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. Of these in their order.

Is the right to freedom from involuntary servitude or slavery secured to a citizen by the Constitution? The right protected by section 5508 must undoubtedly be one which is secured by some provision of the Constitution or by some law of the United States. That section, so far as now pertinent, is as follows:

'If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States * * * they shall be fined not more than five thousand dollars and imprisoned not more than ten years; and shall, moreover, be thereafter ineligible to any office, or place of honor, profit, or trust created by the Constitution or laws of the United States.'

The government contends that the right protected by that section and charged to have been violated by the defendants is secured by the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which is as follows:

'Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
'Sec. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.'

Defendants' learned counsel first contend that the right to freedom from involuntary servitude and slavery is secured by no Constitution or law; but is inborn, given to man by his Creator, and recognized, under the name of liberty, in the Declaration of Independence as one of [157 F. 724] his equal and inalienable rights. With most of this panegyric we are in full accord, but not with all. That a right may be inborn or natural in most cases merely expresses the fact that it is a right. Most, if not all, the rights of mankind which are recognized by law have their origin or suggestion in natural right, and it is because of the intuitive recognition of that right that they are so recognized and protected by law. The right to life and the pursuit of happiness is by the token invoked by learned counsel an endowment of the Creator, personal and inalienable. But the protection and security of these rights in one form or another furnishes the occasion of most of our legislation, federal and state. We cannot perceive how the preservation or security of a natural right may not afford the subject of legislation. One has a generally conceded and natural right to his life and property. If these rights may not be protected or secured by law, our Legislatures, national and state, have been for a long time woefully mistaken.

A complete answer to defendants' contention is afforded by the fact that the statute protects a right 'secured' by the Constitution and laws; not one originating in, created, or granted by them. This discriminating use of words is significant, and in our opinion conclusive against defendants' contention. The Constitution ordains that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude shall exist within the United States, etc. Nothing can more effectually secure the right of freedom from slavery or involuntary servitude than this peremptory and all comprehensive prohibition against their existence anywhere within the jurisdiction of the United States. The Supreme Court in Clyatt v. United States, 197 U.S. 207, 216, 25 Sup.Ct. 429, 430, 49 L.Ed. 726, speaking by Mr. Justice Brewer concerning the amendment in question, said:

'This amendment denounces a status or condition, irrespective of the manner or authority by which it is created. * * * It names no party or authority, but simply forbids slavery and involuntary servitude, grants to Congress power to enforce this prohibition by appropriate legislation.'

Mr. Justice Bradley in Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 20, 23, 3 Sup.Ct. 18, 28, 27 L.Ed. 835, observes concerning this amendment that it 'is undoubtedly self-executing without any ancillary legislation, so far as its terms are applicable to any existing state of circumstances. By its own unaided force and effect it abolished slavery, and established universal freedom. * * * The amendment is not a mere prohibition of state laws establishing or upholding slavery, but an absolute declaration that slavery or involuntary servitude shall not exist in any part of the United States. ' In Hodges v. United States, 203 U.S. 1, 16, 27 Sup.Ct. 6, 8, 51 L.Ed. 65, Mr. Justice Brewer, again speaking of this amendment, says:

'The meaning of this is as clear as language can make it. The things denounced are slavery and involuntary servitude, and Congress is given power to enforce that denunciation. All understand by these terms a condition of enforced compulsory service of one to another. * * * If in any respect it commits one race to the Nation, it commits every race and every individual thereof.'

There can be no doubt that section 5508 is an exercise of the legislative function warranted by section 2 of the thirteenth amendment. It was enacted in view of that amendment and the right undertaken to [157 F. 725] be protected by it is undoubtedly a right secured by the amendment.

The cases cited by learned counsel in support of their view (Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651, 4 Sup.Ct. 152, 28 L.Ed. 274; United States v. Waddell, 112 U.S. 76, 5 Sup. 35, 28 L.Ed. 673; Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 12 Sup.Ct. 617, 36 L.Ed. 429; In re Quarles and Butler, 158 U.S. 532, 15 Sup.Ct. 959, 39 L.Ed. 1080) relate generally to conspiracies to injure or intimidate a citizen in the exercise of some conventional right actually created or conferred by the Constitution or by some law as distinguished from a natural right, and therefore do not make against our conclusion in this case. A right which has been conferred by law is manifestly secured by that law. Such concession, however, is no authority for the contention that a right secured by law must necessarily have been conferred by some law.

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47 practice notes
  • United States v. Patterson, 862.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 26, 1912
    ...Holmes in Swift & Co. v. United States, 196 U.S. 375, 395, 396, 25 Sup.Ct. 276, 49 L.Ed. 518, and of Judge Adams in Smith v. United States, 157 F. 721, 725, 85 C.C.A. 353, may be read with profit. In early times, and extending up to not a very remote period, when there were many capital off......
  • Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, No. 6939.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 26, 1939
    ...in that sense which is its plain and ordinary meaning, viz., to put beyond hazard of losing. In the case of Smith v. United States, 8 Cir., 157 F. 721, decided in 1907, a contention similar to that of the appellants was made in respect to the interpretation of rights under the Thirteenth Am......
  • Jelke v. United States, 2168
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 2, 1918
    ...U.S. 606, 18 Sup.Ct. 774, 42 L.Ed. 1162; Schlemmer v. Buffalo, etc., Co., 205 U.S. 1, 27 Sup.Ct. 407, 51 L.Ed. 681; Smith v. United States, 157 F. 721, 85 C.C.A. 353; s.c., 208 U.S. 618, 28 Sup.Ct. 569, 52 L.Ed. 647; Joplin Mercantile Co. v. United States, 213 F. 926, p. 933, 131 C.C.A. 160......
  • United Mine Workers of America v. Coronado Coal Co., 5154.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • April 28, 1919
    ...object completed, are responsible. Thomas v. United States, 156 F. 897, 910, 84 C.C.A. 477, 17 L.R.A. (N.S.) 720; Smith v. United States, 157 F. 721, 728, 85 C.C.A. 353; United States v. Babcock, 3 Dill. 581, 585, Fed. Cas. No. 14487; Goldfield Consolidated Mines Co. v. Goldfield Miners Uni......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • Jelke v. United States, 2168
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • March 2, 1918
    ...U.S. 606, 18 Sup.Ct. 774, 42 L.Ed. 1162; Schlemmer v. Buffalo, etc., Co., 205 U.S. 1, 27 Sup.Ct. 407, 51 L.Ed. 681; Smith v. United States, 157 F. 721, 85 C.C.A. 353; s.c., 208 U.S. 618, 28 Sup.Ct. 569, 52 L.Ed. 647; Joplin Mercantile Co. v. United States, 213 F. 926, p. 933, 131 C.C.A. 160......
  • United States v. Patterson, 862.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 26, 1912
    ...Holmes in Swift & Co. v. United States, 196 U.S. 375, 395, 396, 25 Sup.Ct. 276, 49 L.Ed. 518, and of Judge Adams in Smith v. United States, 157 F. 721, 725, 85 C.C.A. 353, may be read with profit. In early times, and extending up to not a very remote period, when there were many capital off......
  • Hague v. Committee for Industrial Organization, No. 6939.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • January 26, 1939
    ...in that sense which is its plain and ordinary meaning, viz., to put beyond hazard of losing. In the case of Smith v. United States, 8 Cir., 157 F. 721, decided in 1907, a contention similar to that of the appellants was made in respect to the interpretation of rights under the Thirteenth Am......
  • United Mine Workers of America v. Coronado Coal Co., 5154.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • April 28, 1919
    ...object completed, are responsible. Thomas v. United States, 156 F. 897, 910, 84 C.C.A. 477, 17 L.R.A. (N.S.) 720; Smith v. United States, 157 F. 721, 728, 85 C.C.A. 353; United States v. Babcock, 3 Dill. 581, 585, Fed. Cas. No. 14487; Goldfield Consolidated Mines Co. v. Goldfield Miners Uni......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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