The Anarchists Case Ex parte Spies and others

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWAITE
Citation31 L.Ed. 80,8 S.Ct. 22,123 U.S. 131
PartiesTHE ANARCHISTS' CASE. 1 Ex parte SPIES and others
Decision Date02 November 1887

8 S.Ct. 22
123 U.S. 131
31 L.Ed. 80
THE ANARCHISTS' CASE.1
Ex parte SPIES and others.
November 2, 1887.

[Statement of Case from pages 132-143 intentionally omitted]

Page 143

Moses Salomon, W. P. Black, Roger A. Pryor, and J. Randolph Tucker, for petitioners.

B. F. Butler, for Spies and Fielden.

Geo. Hunt, Atty. Gen. Ill., in opposition.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 143-163 intentionally omitted]

Page 163

WAITE, C. J.

When, as in this case, application is made to us on the suggestion of one of our number, to whom a similar application had been previously addressed, for the allowance of a writ of error to the highest court of a state, under section 709, Rev. St., it is our duty to ascertain, not only

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whether any question reviewable here was made and decided in the proper court below, but whether it is of a character to justify us in bringing the judgment here for re-examination. In our opinion the writ ought not to be allowed by the court if it appears from the face of the record that the decision of the federal question which is complained of was so plainly right as not to require argument, and especially if it is in accordance with our own well-considered judgments in similar cases. That is in effect what was done in Twitchell v. Com., 7 Wall. 321, where the writ was refused, because the questions presented by the record were 'no longer subjects of discussion here,' although, if they had been in the opinion of the court 'open,' it would have been allowed. When, under section 5 of our rule 6, a motion to affirm is united with a motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, the practice has been to grant the motion to affirm when 'the question on which our jurisdiction depends was so manifestly decided right that the case ought not to be held for further argument.' Arrowsmith v. Harmoning, 118 U. S. 194, 195, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1023; Church v. Kelsey, 121 U. S. 282, 7 Sup. Ct. Rep. 897. The propriety of adopting a similar rule upon motions in open court for the allowance of a writ of error is apparent, for certainly we would not be justified as a court in sending out a writ to bring up for review a judgment of the highest court of a state, when it is apparent on the face of the record that our duty would be to grant a motion to affirm as soon as it was made in proper form.

In the present case we have had the benefit of argument in support of the application, and, while counsel have not deemed it their duty to go fully into the merits of the federal questions they suggest, they have shown us distinctly what the decisions were of which they complain, and how the questions arose. In this way we are able to determine, as a court in session, whether the errors alleged are such as to justify us in bringing the case here for review.

We proceed, then, to consider what the questions are on which, if it exists at all, our jurisdiction depends. They are thus stated in the opening brief of counsel for petitioners:

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'First. Petitioners challenged the validity of the statute of Illinois under and pursuant to which the trial jury was selected and impaneled, on the ground of repugnancy to the constitution of the United States, and the state court sustained the validity of the statute. Second. Petitioners asserted and claimed, under the constitution of the United States, the right, privilege, and immunity of trial by an impartial jury, and the decision of the state court was against the right, privilege, and immunity so asserted and claimed. Third. The state of Illinois made, and the state court enforced against petitioners, a law (the aforesaid statute) whereby the privileges and immunities of petitioners, as citizens of the United States, were abridged, contrary to the fourteenth amendment of the federal constitution. Fourth. Upon their trial for a capital offense, petitioners were compelled by the state court to be witnesses against themselves, contrary to the provisions of the constitution of the United States, which declare that 'no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,' and that 'no person shall be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law.' Fifth. That by the action of the state court in said trial petitioners were denied 'the equal protection of the laws,' contrary to the guaranty of the said fourteenth amendment of the federal constitution.'

The particular provisions of the constitution of the United States on which counsel rely are found in articles 4, 5, 6, and 14 of the amendments, as follows: Article 4. 'The right of the people to be secure, in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.' Article 5. 'No person * * * shall be compelled, in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.' Article 6. 'In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have

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been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law.' Article 14, § 1. 'No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'

That the first 10 articles of amendment were not intended to limit the powers of the state governments in respect to their own people, but to operate on the national government alone, was decided more than a half century ago, and that decision has been steadily adhered to since. Barron v. Baltimore, 7 Pet. 243, 247; Livingston v. Moore, Id. 469, 552; Fox v. Ohio, 5 How. 410, 434; Smith v. Maryland, 18 How. 71, 76; Withers v. Buckley, 20 How. 84, 91; Pervear v. Com., 5 Wall. 475, 479; Twitchell v. Com., 7 Wall. 321, 325; Justices v. Murray, 9 Wall. 274, 278; Edwards v. Elliott, 21 Wall. 532, 557; Walker v. Sauvinet, 92 U. S. 90; U. S. v. Cruikshank, Id. 542, 552; Pearson v. Yewdall, 95 U. S. 294, 296; Davidson v. New Orleans, 96 U. S. 97, 101; Kelly v. Pittsburgh, 104 U. S. 79; Presser v. Illinois, 116 U. S. 252, 265, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 580.

It was contended, however, in argument, that, 'though originally the first ten amendments were adopted as limitations on federal power, yet, in so far as they secure and recognize fundamental rights—common-law rights—of the man, they make them privileges and immunities of the man as a citizen of the United States, and cannot now be abridged by a state under the fourteenth amendment. In other words, while the ten amendments as limitations on power only apply to the federal government, and not to the states, yet in so far as they declare or recognize rights of persons, these rights are theirs, as citizens of the United States, and the fourteenth amendment as to such rights limits state power, as the ten amendments had limited federal power.' It is also contended that the provision of the fourteenth amendment, which declares that no state shall deprive 'any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,' implies that every person charged with crime in a state shall

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be entitled to a trial by an impartial jury, and shall not be compelled to testify against himself. The objections are, in brief, (1) that a statute of the state as construed by the court deprived the petitioners of a trial by an impartial jury; and (2) that Spies was compelled to give evidence against himself. Before considering whether the constitution of the United States has the effect which is claimed, it is proper to inquire whether the federal questions relied on in fact do arise on the face of this record.

The statute to which objection is made was approved March 12, 1874, and has been in force since July 1st of that year. Hurd, Rev. St. Ill. 1885, p. 752, c. 78, § 14. It is as follows: 'It shall be sufficient cause of challenge of a petit juror that he lacks any one of the qualifications mentioned in section 2 of this act; or, if he is not one of the regular panel, that he has served as a juror on the trial of a cause in any court of record in the county within one year previous to the time of his being offered as a juror; or that he is a party to a suit pending for trial in that court at that term. It shall be the duty of the court to discharge from the panel all jurors who do not possess the qualifications provided in this act, as soon as the fact is discovered: provided, if a person has served on a jury in a court of record within one year, he shall be exempt from again serving during such year, unless he waives such exemption: provided, further, that it shall not be a cause of challenge that a juror has read in the newspapers an account of the commission of the crime with which the prisoner is charged, if such juror shall state on oath that he believes he can render an impartial verdict according to the law and the evidence: and provided, further, that, in the trial of any criminal cause, the fact that a person called as a juror has formed an opinion or impression, based upon rumor or upon newspaper statements, (about the truth of which he has expressed no opinion,) shall not disqualify him to serve as a juror in such case, if he shall upon oath state that he believes he can fairly and impartially render a verdict therein in accordance with the law and the evidence, and the court shall be satisfied of the truth of such statement.'

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The complaint is that the trial court, acting under this statute, and in accordance with its requirements, compelled the petitioners, against their will, to submit to a trial by a jury that was not impartial, and thus deprived them of one of the fundamental rights which they had as citizens of the United States under the national constitution, and, if the sentence of the court is carried into...

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308 practice notes
  • State Ex Rel. Cosner v. See, No. 9910.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 4 Marzo 1947
    ...procedure and the trial of causes in the Federal Courts and do not impose limitations upon such action in State Courts. Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, 8 S.Ct. 21, 31 L.Ed. 80. See also Ex parte McNeeley, 36 W.Va. 84, 14 S.E. 436. When, however, violation of the rights enumerated in these ......
  • McKnight v. Bobby, Case No. 2:09-cv-059
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • 14 Septiembre 2020
    ...lay aside his impression or opinion and render a verdict based on the evidence presented in court. Spies v. People of State of Illinois, 123 U.S. 131; Holt v. United States, 218 U.S. 245.Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 722-23 (1961). The Supreme Court has also stated that widespread and inflam......
  • Eisenhauer v. State, No. 149-85
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • 23 Marzo 1988
    ...indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them." Id., at 250. Accord: Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, 166, 8 S.Ct. 21, 24, 31 Page 169 L.Ed. 80 (1887). 5 Thus over a span of one hundred years fundamental rights to privacy and protections aga......
  • Alderman v. Austin, No. 80-7820
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 10 Enero 1983
    ...States v. Robbins, 500 F.2d 650 (5th Cir.1974); Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 81 S.Ct. 1639, 6 L.Ed.2d 751 (1961); Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, 8 S.Ct. 21, 31 L.Ed. 80 (1887); Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 25 L.Ed. 244 (1878); United States v. Brown, 540 F.2d 364 (8th Cir.1976)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
308 cases
  • State Ex Rel. Cosner v. See, No. 9910.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • 4 Marzo 1947
    ...procedure and the trial of causes in the Federal Courts and do not impose limitations upon such action in State Courts. Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, 8 S.Ct. 21, 31 L.Ed. 80. See also Ex parte McNeeley, 36 W.Va. 84, 14 S.E. 436. When, however, violation of the rights enumerated in these ......
  • McKnight v. Bobby, Case No. 2:09-cv-059
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • 14 Septiembre 2020
    ...lay aside his impression or opinion and render a verdict based on the evidence presented in court. Spies v. People of State of Illinois, 123 U.S. 131; Holt v. United States, 218 U.S. 245.Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 722-23 (1961). The Supreme Court has also stated that widespread and inflam......
  • Eisenhauer v. State, No. 149-85
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas
    • 23 Marzo 1988
    ...indicating an intention to apply them to the State governments. This court cannot so apply them." Id., at 250. Accord: Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, 166, 8 S.Ct. 21, 24, 31 Page 169 L.Ed. 80 (1887). 5 Thus over a span of one hundred years fundamental rights to privacy and protections aga......
  • Alderman v. Austin, No. 80-7820
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 10 Enero 1983
    ...States v. Robbins, 500 F.2d 650 (5th Cir.1974); Irvin v. Dowd, 366 U.S. 717, 81 S.Ct. 1639, 6 L.Ed.2d 751 (1961); Spies v. Illinois, 123 U.S. 131, 8 S.Ct. 21, 31 L.Ed. 80 (1887); Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 25 L.Ed. 244 (1878); United States v. Brown, 540 F.2d 364 (8th Cir.1976)......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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