Freedom of Speech & Expression

UNITED STATES EX REL. JOHN TURNER v. WILLIAMS, 194 U.S. 279 (1904)

Argued:
April 06, 1904
Decided:
May 16, 1904
Decided by:
Fuller Court, 1903
Action:
Affirmed (includes modified). Petitioning party did not receive a favorable disposition.

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David Brewer

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194 U.S. 279 (1904)


UNITED STATES ex rel. JOHN TURNER
v.
WILLIAMS.


No. 561.

Supreme Court of United States.


Argued April 6, 7, 1904.

Decided May 16, 1904.

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.

*285 Mr. Clarence S. Darrow and Mr. Edgar L. Masters for appellants.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General McReynolds for appellee.

*289 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

This appeal was taken directly to this court on the ground that the case involved the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States, and that the constitutionality of a law of the United States was drawn in question; and although it may be, as argued by the Government, that the principles which must control our decision have been practically settled, we think, the whole record considered, that we are not constrained to dismiss the appeal for that reason.

It is contended that the act of March 3, 1903, is unconstitutional because in contravention of the First, Fifth and Sixth Articles of Amendment of the Constitution, and of section 1 of Article III of that instrument; and because no power “is delegated by the Constitution to the General Government over alien friends with reference to their admission into the United States or otherwise, or over the beliefs of citizens, denizens, sojourners or aliens, or over the freedom of speech or of the press.”

Repeated decisions of this court have determined that Congress has the power to exclude aliens from the United States; to prescribe the terms and conditions on which they may come in; to establish regulations for sending out of the country such aliens as have entered in violation of law, and to commit the enforcement of such conditions and regulations to executive *290 officers; that the deportation of an alien who is found to be here in violation of law is not a deprivation of liberty without due process of law, and that the provisions of the Constitution securing the right of trial by jury have no application. Chae Chan Ping v. United States, 130 U.S. 581; Nishimura Ekiu v. United States, 142 U.S. 651; Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U.S. 698; Lem Moon Sing v. United States, 158 U.S. 538; Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228; Fok Yung Yo v. United States, 185 U.S. 296; Japanese Immigrant Case, 189 U.S. 86; Chin Bak Kan v. United States, 186 U.S. 193; United States v. Sing Tuck, 194 U.S. 161.

In the case last cited the distinction on which Gonzales v. Williams, 192 U.S. 1, turned was pointed out. The question whether a citizen of Porto Rico, under the treaty of cession and the act of April 12, 1900, came within the immigration law of March 3, 1891, was purely a question of law, which being decided in the negative all questions of fact became immaterial.

In the present case alienage was conceded and was not in dispute, and it was the question of fact thereupon arising that was passed on by the Board, and by the Secretary on appeal.

Whether rested on the accepted principle of international law that every sovereign nation has the power, as inherent in sovereignty and essential to self-preservation, to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its dominions, or to admit them only in such cases and upon such conditions as it may see fit to prescribe; or on the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, which includes the entrance of ships, the importation of goods, and the bringing of persons into the ports of the United States, the act before us is not open to constitutional objection. And while we held in Wong Wing v. United States, supra, a certain provision of an immigration law invalid on that ground, this act does not come within the ruling.

In that case Mr. Justice Shiras, speaking for the court, said:

“We regard it as settled by our previous decisions that the *291 United States can, as a matter of public policy, by Congressional enactment, forbid aliens or classes of aliens from coming within their borders, and expel aliens or classes of aliens from their territory, and can, in order to make effectual such decree of exclusion or expulsion, devolve the power and duty of identifying and arresting the persons included in such decree, and causing their deportation, upon executive or subordinate officials.

“But when Congress sees fit to further promote such a policy by subjecting the persons of such aliens to infamous punishment at hard labor, or by confiscating their property, we think such legislation, to be valid, must provide for a judicial trial to establish the guilt of the accused. No limits can be put by the courts upon the power of Congress to protect, by summary methods, the country from the advent of aliens whose race or habits render them undesirable as citizens, or to expel such if they have already found their way into our land and unlawfully remain therein. But to declare unlawful residence within the country to be an infamous crime, punishable by deprivation of liberty and property, would be to pass out of the sphere of constitutional legislation, unless provision were made that the fact of guilt should first be established by a judicial trial. It is not consistent with the theory of our government that the legislature should, after having defined an offence as an infamous crime, find the fact of guilt and adjudge the punishment by one of its own agents.”

Detention or temporary confinement as part of the means necessary to give effect to the exclusion or expulsion was held valid, but so much of the act of 1892 as provided for imprisonment at hard labor without a judicial trial was held to be unconstitutional. The cases of Chae Chan Ping, Fong Yue Ting and Lem Moon Sing were carefully considered and applied.

We do not feel called upon to reconsider these decisions, and they dispose of the specific contentions as to the application of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, and section 1 of Article III, and the denial of the delegation to the General Government of *292 the power to enact this law. But it is said that the act violates the First Amendment, which prohibits the passage of any law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

We are at a loss to understand in what way the act is obnoxious to this objection. It has no reference to an establishment of religion nor does it prohibit the free exercise thereof; nor abridge the freedom of speech or the press; nor the right of the people to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. It is, of course, true that if an alien is not permitted to enter this country, or, having entered contrary to law, is expelled, he is in fact cut off from worshipping or speaking or publishing or petitioning in the country, but that is merely because of his exclusion therefrom. He does not become one of the people to whom these things are secured by our Constitution by an attempt to enter forbidden by law. To appeal to the Constitution is to concede that this is a land governed by that supreme law, and as under it the power to exclude has been determined to exist, those who are excluded cannot assert the rights in general obtaining in a land to which they do not belong as citizens or otherwise.

Appellant’s contention really comes to this, that the act is unconstitutional so far as it provides for the exclusion of an alien because he is an anarchist.

The argument seems to be that, conceding that Congress has the power to shut out any alien, the power nevertheless does not extend to some aliens, and that if the act includes all alien anarchists, it is unconstitutional, because some anarchists are merely political philosophers, whose teachings are beneficial rather than otherwise.

Counsel give these definitions from the Century Dictionary:

“ANARCHY. Absence or insufficiency of government; a state of society in which there is no capable supreme power, and in which the several functions of the state are performed badly or *293 not at all; social and political confusion. Specifically — 2. A social theory which regards the union of order with the absence of all direct government of man by man as the political ideal; absolute individual liberty. 3. Confusion in general.

“ANARCHIST. 1. Properly, one who advocates anarchy or the absence of government as a political ideal; a believer in an anarchic theory of society; especially, an adherent of the social theory of Proudhon. (See Anarchy, 2.) 2. In popular use, one who seeks to overturn by violence all constituted forms and institutions of society and government, all law and order, and all rights of property, with no purpose of establishing any other system of order in the place of that destroyed; especially, such a person when actuated by mere lust of plunder. 3. Any person who promotes disorder or excites revolt against an established rule, law, or custom.”

And Huxley is quoted as saying: “Anarchy, as a term of political philosophy, must be taken only in its proper sense, which has nothing to do with disorder or with crime, but denotes a state of society in which the rule of each individual by himself is the only government the legitimacy of which is recognized.”

The language of the act is “anarchists, or persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States or of all government or of all forms of law, or the assassination of public officials.” If this should be construed as defining the word “anarchists” by the words which follow, or as used in the popular sense above given, it would seem that when an alien arrives in this country, who avows himself to be an anarchist, without more, he accepts the definition. And we suppose counsel does not deny that this Government has the power to exclude an alien who believes in or advocates the overthrow of the Government or of all governments by force or the assassination of officials. To put that question is to answer it.

And if the judgment of the board and the Secretary was that Turner came within the act as thus construed, we cannot *294 hold as matter of law that there was no evidence on which that conclusion could be rested. Even if Turner, though he did not so state to the board, only regarded the absence of government as a political ideal, yet when he sought to attain it by advocating, not simply for the benefit of workingmen, who are justly entitled to repel the charge of desiring the destruction of law and order, but “at any rate, as an anarchist,” the universal strike to which he referred, and by discourses on what he called “The legal murder of 1887,” Spies v. People, 122 Illinois, 1, and by addressing mass meetings on that subject in association with Most, Reg. v. Most, 7 Q.B. Div. 244; People v. Most, 171 N.Y. 423, we cannot say that the inference was unjustifiable either that he contemplated the ultimate realization of his ideal by the use of force, or that his speeches were incitements to that end.

If the word “anarchists” should be interpreted as including aliens whose anarchistic views are professed as those of political philosophers innocent of evil intent, it would follow that Congress was of opinion that the tendency of the general exploitation of such views is so dangerous to the public weal that aliens who hold and advocate them would be undesirable additions to our population, whether permanently or temporarily, whether many or few, and, in the light of previous decisions, the act, even in this aspect, would not be unconstitutional, or as applicable to any alien who is opposed to all organized government.

We are not to be understood as depreciating the vital importance of freedom of speech and of the press, or as suggesting limitations on the spirit of liberty, in itself unconquerable, but this case does not involve those considerations. The flaming brand which guards the realm where no human government is needed still bars the entrance; and as long as human governments endure they cannot be denied the power of self-preservation, as that question is presented here.

Reference was made by counsel to the alien law of June 25, 1798, 1 Stat. 570, c. 58, but we do not think that the controversy *295 over that law (and the sedition law) and the opinions expressed at the time against its constitutionality have any bearing upon this case, which involves an act couched in entirely different terms and embracing an entirely different purpose. As Mr. Justice Field remarked in the Chinese Exclusion Case, 130 U.S. 581, 610: “The act was passed during a period of great political excitement, and it was attacked and defended with great zeal and ability. It is enough, however, to say that it is entirely different from the act before us, and the validity of its provisions was never brought to the test of judicial decision in the courts of the United States.”

Order affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE BREWER, concurring.

In view of the range of discussion in the argument of this case at the bar I feel justified in adding a few words to what has been said by the Chief Justice.

First. I fully endorse and accentuate the conclusions of the court, as disclosed by the opinion, that, notwithstanding the legislation of Congress, the courts may and must, when properly called upon by petition in habeas corpus, examine and determine the right of any individual restrained of his personal liberty to be discharged from such restraint. I do not believe it within the power of Congress to give to ministerial officers a final adjudication of the right to liberty or to oust the courts from the duty of inquiry respecting both law and facts. “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” Const. Art. 1, sec. 9, clause 2.

Second. While undoubtedly the United States as a nation has all the powers which inhere in any nation, Congress is not authorized in all things to act for the nation, and too little effect has been given to the Tenth Article of the amendments to the Constitution, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the *296 States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The powers the people have given to the General Government are named in the Constitution, and all not there named, either expressly or by implication, are reserved to the people and can be exercised only by them, or upon further grant from them.

Third. No testimony was offered on the hearing before the Circuit Court other than that taken before the immigration board of inquiry, and none before such board save that preserved in its report. Hence the facts must be determined by that evidence. It is not an unreasonable deduction therefrom that petitioner is an anarchist in the commonly accepted sense of the term, one who urges and seeks the overthrow by force of all government. If that be not the fact, he should have introduced testimony to establish the contrary. It is unnecessary, therefore, to consider what rights he would have if he were only what is called by way of differentiation a philosophical anarchist, one who simply entertains and expresses the opinion that all government is a mistake, and that society would be better off without any.

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