On this appeal our only inquiry is whether the District Court of the Territory had jurisdiction of the offence charged in the indictment of which the defendant was found guilty. If it had jurisdiction, we can go no farther. We cannot look into any alleged errors in its rulings on the trial of the defendant. The writ of habeas corpus cannot be turned into a writ of error to review the action of that court. Nor can we inquire whether the evidence established the fact alleged, that the defendant was a member of an order or organization known as the Mormon Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the fact that the order or organization taught and counselled its members and devotees to commit the crimes of bigamy and polygamy as duties arising from membership therein. On this hearing we can only consider whether, these allegations being taken as true, an offence was committed of which the territorial court had jurisdiction to try the defendant. And on this point there can be no serious discussion or difference of opinion. Bigamy and polygamy are crimes by the laws of all civilized and Christian countries. They are crimes by the laws of the United States, and they are crimes by the laws of Idaho. They tend to destroy the purity of the marriage relation, to disturb the peace of families, to degrade woman and to debase man. Few crimes are more pernicious to the best interests of society and receive more general or more deserved punishment. To extend exemption from punishment for such crimes would be to shock the moral judgment of the community. To call their *342 advocacy a tenet of religion is to offend the common sense of mankind. If they are crimes, then to teach, advise and counsel their practice is to aid in their commission, and such teaching and counselling are themselves criminal and proper subjects of punishment, as aiding and abetting crime are in all other cases.

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In the brief of counsel for plaintiff in error many presumed errors are elaborately discussed, all of which when analyzed rest on the assumption that there was a right in the plaintiff in error to use the common of the city of Boston free from legislative or municipal control or regulation. It is argued that —"Boston Common is the property of the inhabitants of the city of Boston, and dedicated to the use of the people of that city and the public in many ways, and the preaching of the gospel there has been, from time immemorial to a recent period, one of these ways. For the making of this ordinance in 1862 and its enforcement against preaching since 1885, no reason whatever has been or can be shown."The record, however, contains no evidence showing the manner in which the ordinance in question had been previously enforced, nor does it include any proof whatever as to the nature of the ownership in the common from which it can be deduced that the plaintiff in error had any particular right to use the common apart from the general enjoyment which he was entitled, as a citizen, to avail of along with others and to the extent only which the law permitted. On the contrary, the legislative act and the ordinance passed in pursuance thereof, previously set out in the statement of facts, show an assumption by the State of control over the common in question. Indeed, the Supreme Judicial Court, in affirming the conviction, placed its conclusion upon the express ground that the common was absolutely under the control of the legislature, which, in the exercise of its *47 discretion, could limit the use to the extent deemed by it advisable, and could and did delegate to the municipality the power to assert such authority. The court said:"There is no evidence before us to show that the power of the legislature over the common is less than its power over any other park dedicated to the use of the public or over public streets the legal title to which is in a city or town. Lincoln v. Boston, 148 Mass. 578, 580. As representative of the public it may and does exercise control over the use which the public may make of such places, and it may and does delegate more or less of such control to the city or town immediately concerned. For the legislature absolutely or conditionally to forbid public speaking in a highway or public park is no more an infringement of the rights of a member of the public than for the owner of a private house to forbid it in his house. When no proprietary right interferes the legislature may end the right of the public to enter upon the public place by putting an end to the dedication to public uses. So it may take the less step of limiting the public use to certain purposes. See Dillon Mun. Corp. secs. 393, 407, 651, 656, 666; Brooklyn Park Commissioners v. Armstrong, 45 N.Y. 234, 243, 244.

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The power vested in Congress "to establish post-offices and post-roads" has been practically construed, since the foundation of the government, to authorize not merely the designation of the routes over which the mail shall be carried, and the offices where letters and other documents shall be received to be distributed or forwarded, but the carriage of the mail, and all measures necessary to secure its safe and speedy transit, and the prompt delivery of its contents. The validity of legislation prescribing what should be carried, and its weight and form, and the charges to which it should be subjected, has never been questioned. What should be mailable has varied at different times, changing with the facility of transportation over the post-roads. At one time, only letters, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and other printed matter, not exceeding eight ounces in weight, were carried; afterwards books were added to the list; and now small packages of merchandise, not exceeding a prescribed weight, as well as books and printed matter of all kinds, are transported in the mail. The power possessed by Congress embraces the regulation of the entire postal system of the country. The right to designate what shall be carried necessarily involves the right to determine what shall be excluded. The difficulty attending the subject arises, not from the want of power in Congress to prescribe regulations as to what shall constitute mail matter, but from the necessity of enforcing them consistently with rights reserved to the people, of far greater importance than the transportation of the mail. In their enforcement, *733 a distinction is to be made between different kinds of mail matter, — between what is intended to be kept free from inspection, such as letters, and sealed packages subject to letter postage; and what is open to inspection, such as newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and other printed matter, purposely left in a condition to be examined. Letters and sealed packages of this kind in the mail are as fully guarded from examination and inspection, except as to their outward form and weight, as if they were retained by the parties forwarding them in their own domiciles. The constitutional guaranty of the right of the people to be secure in their papers against unreasonable searches and seizures extends to their papers, thus closed against inspection, wherever they may be. Whilst in the mail, they can only be opened and examined under like warrant, issued upon similar oath or affirmation, particularly describing the thing to be seized, as is required when papers are subjected to search in one's own household. No law of Congress can place in the hands of officials connected with the postal service any authority to invade the secrecy of letters and such sealed packages in the mail; and all regulations adopted as to mail matter of this kind must be in subordination to the great principle embodied in the fourth amendment of the Constitution.

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Since our judgment in this case was announced, a petition for rehearing has been filed, in which our attention is called to the fact that the sentence of the *169 court below requires the imprisonment to be at hard labor, when the act of Congress under which the indictment was found provides for punishment by imprisonment only. This was not assigned for error on the former hearing, and we might on that account decline to consider it now; but as the irregularity is one which appears on the face of the record, we vacate our former judgment of affirmance, and reverse the judgment of the court below for the purpose of correcting the only error which appears in the record, to wit, in the form of the sentence. The cause is remanded, with instructions to cause the sentence of the District Court to be set aside and a new one entered on the verdict in all respects like that before imposed, except so far as it requires the imprisonment to be at hard labor.

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The principal questions raised are, first, as to the power of Congress to repeal the charter of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; and, secondly, as to the power of Congress and the courts to seize the property of said corporation and to hold the same for the purposes mentioned in the decree.

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Overruled

This case comes here with a certificate by the judges of the Circuit Court for the District of Louisiana that they were divided in opinion upon a question which occurred at the hearing. It presents for our consideration an indictment containing sixteen counts, divided into two series of eight counts each, based upon sect. 6 of the Enforcement Act of May 31, 1870. That section is as follows:—"That if two or more persons shall band or conspire together, or go in disguise upon the public highway, or upon the premises of another, with intent to violate any provision of this act, or to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any citizen, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise and enjoyment of any right or privilege granted or secured to him by the constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having exercised the same, such persons shall be held guilty of felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be fined or imprisoned, or both, at the discretion of the court, — the fine not to exceed $5,000, and the imprisonment not to exceed ten years; and shall, moreover, be thereafter ineligible to, and disabled from holding, any office or place of honor, profit, or trust created by the constitution or laws of the United States." 16 Stat. 141.

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This case belongs to a class, happily rare in our courts, in which one of the parties to a controversy, essentially ecclesiastical, resorts to the judicial tribunals of the State for the maintenance of rights which the church has refused to acknowledge, or found itself unable to protect. Much as such dissensions among the members of a religious society should *714 be regretted, a regret which is increased when passing from the control of the judicial and legislative bodies of the entire organization to which the society belongs, an appeal is made to the secular authority; the courts when so called on must perform their functions as in other cases.

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