United States v. Lewis, No. 1387.

Docket NºNo. 1387.
Citation100 A.2d 40
Case DateNovember 06, 1953
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District
100 A.2d 40
UNITED STATES
v.
LEWIS
No. 1387.
Municipal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Argued October 5, 1953.
Decided November 6, 1953.

Lewis A. Carroll, Asst. U. S. Atty., Washington, D. C., with whom Leo A. Rover, U. S. Atty., William J. Peck and Kenneth D. Wood, Asst. U. S. Attys., Washington, D. C., and Alexander L. Stevas, Asst. U. S. Atty., Arlington, Va., were on the brief, for appellant.

Walter E. Gallagher, Washington, D. C., with whom Myron G. Ehrlich and Joseph Sitnick, Washington, D. C., were on the brief, for appellee.

Page 41

Before CAYTON, Chief judge, and HOOD and QUINN, Associate Judges.

CAYTON, Chief Judge.


Frank Lewis was charged by information with having engaged in the business of accepting wagers without paying the occupational tax imposed by Chapter 27A of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. § 3285 et seq. (Supp. V, 1952). He moved to dismiss the information and the trial court granted his motion, holding in a written opinion that Chapter 27A is unconstitutional because it compels a defendant to give self-incriminating information and imposes a penalty in the guise of a tax. From that decision the United States has brought this appeal.

Determination of the constitutionality of an act of Congress is, as the Supreme Court has said, one of the most serious responsibilities of the judiciary. "It is always an exceedingly grave and delicate duty to decide upon the constitutionality of an act of the congress of the United States. The presumption, as has frequently been said, is in favor of the validity of the act, and it is only when the question is free from any reasonable doubt that the court should hold an act of the lawmaking power of the nation to be in violation of that fundamental instrument upon which all the powers of the government rest. This is particularly true of a revenue act of congress. The provisions of such an act should not be lightly or inadvisedly set aside, although, if they be plainly antagonistic to the Constitution it is the duty of the court to so declare." Nicol v. Ames, 173 U.S. 509, 514, 19 S.Ct. 522, 525, 43 L.Ed. 786.

Much greater has been the unwillingness of courts of first instance to strike down acts of Congress. Out of an awareness of the serious nature of such a procedure and out of a concern for uniform enforcement of federal laws has grown more than a rule of law: a sound and well-defined public policy has been established among the United States District Courts of resolving every intendment in favor of acts of Congress and refraining from nullification of such acts unless some plain mandate of the constitution is clearly shown to have been violated.1 Thus it has been said: "* * * before pronouncing an act of Congress unconstitutional and unenforceable, a District Court should be even more carefully deliberate and firmly convinced beyond a reasonable doubt of its unconstitutionality than would be necessary on the part of a Circuit Court of Appeals or of the Supreme Court of the United States. A District Court is a one-man court. There are numerous District Courts; and the result of conflicting views of individual District judges as to the unconstitutionality of acts of Congress leads to a frequently confusing status in the enforceability of national laws. Wherefore District...

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4 practice notes
  • Ruddler v. United States, No. 1429.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 9 Junio 1954
    ...court would have been required to rule in favor of the constitutionality of the Gwinn Amendment. See United States v. Lewis, D.C.Mun.App., 100 A.2d 40, 41, where we repeated the well established rule that courts of first instance should resolve every intendment in favor of an act of Congres......
  • Hicks v. District of Columbia, No. 3340.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 5 Febrero 1964
    ...Notes: 1. Henderson v. E Street Theatre Corporation, D.C.Mun.App., 63 A.2d 649 (1948). 2. United States v. Lewis, D.C.Mun.App., 100 A.2d 40, aff'd 94 U.S.App.D.C. 205, 214 F.2d 853, aff'd 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475 3. Rogers v. District of Columbia, D.C. Mun.App., 31 A.2d 649 ......
  • Lewis v. United States, No. 203
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 14 Marzo 1955
    ...The Municipal Court sustained Page 420 a motion to dismiss the information. The Municipal Court of Appeals for the District reversed, 100 A.2d 40, and the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Municipal Court of Appeals. 94 U.S.App.D.C. 205, 214 F.2d 853. We granted certiorari. 348 U.S. 810......
  • Lewis v. United States, No. 12009.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 10 Junio 1954
    ...business of accepting wagers, is constitutional in its application to the District of Columbia. United States v. Lewis, D.C.Mun.App.1953, 100 A.2d 40. That decision is clearly correct, in view of United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754, rehearing denied, 1953, 345......
4 cases
  • Ruddler v. United States, No. 1429.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 9 Junio 1954
    ...court would have been required to rule in favor of the constitutionality of the Gwinn Amendment. See United States v. Lewis, D.C.Mun.App., 100 A.2d 40, 41, where we repeated the well established rule that courts of first instance should resolve every intendment in favor of an act of Congres......
  • Hicks v. District of Columbia, No. 3340.
    • United States
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • 5 Febrero 1964
    ...Notes: 1. Henderson v. E Street Theatre Corporation, D.C.Mun.App., 63 A.2d 649 (1948). 2. United States v. Lewis, D.C.Mun.App., 100 A.2d 40, aff'd 94 U.S.App.D.C. 205, 214 F.2d 853, aff'd 348 U.S. 419, 75 S.Ct. 415, 99 L.Ed. 475 3. Rogers v. District of Columbia, D.C. Mun.App., 31 A.2d 649 ......
  • Lewis v. United States, No. 203
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 14 Marzo 1955
    ...The Municipal Court sustained Page 420 a motion to dismiss the information. The Municipal Court of Appeals for the District reversed, 100 A.2d 40, and the Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Municipal Court of Appeals. 94 U.S.App.D.C. 205, 214 F.2d 853. We granted certiorari. 348 U.S. 810......
  • Lewis v. United States, No. 12009.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 10 Junio 1954
    ...business of accepting wagers, is constitutional in its application to the District of Columbia. United States v. Lewis, D.C.Mun.App.1953, 100 A.2d 40. That decision is clearly correct, in view of United States v. Kahriger, 345 U.S. 22, 73 S.Ct. 510, 97 L.Ed. 754, rehearing denied, 1953, 345......

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