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Important Decision

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The followiüg is an abstract of the lengthy opinión of the United States Bupreme com-t in the Kentucky eleotton case, reeen tly deliverea by Chiefiustice Waite : After statiag that tho United States abandon tho first and third counts, and cxprcssly waive conmderation of ail cliiinm not ai ing "out of th enforcemcut of tbo iifteonth amondnicnt of tho Oonstitution. tho opinión details tho provttiöns of tlie amendmeut, and says : The power of CongreBS to legislate at al] 'upon the subject of votmg at. Statoolections resta upou this amendment. The effect of artiole 1, éection 4, of the Constitution, in respect to 'elections for senators and reprosentatives is uot now under consideratioti. It bas uot been con tended, nor can it be, that the amendmeut confers autnority to impose a penalty for every wrougful refunal to receive the voto of a qualified elector at State elections. It i oul y when the wrougful refusnl at sucli an electiou is because of the race, color, or previous condition of servitude that Congreso can interfere and próvido for i'.s puuishnieut. If, therefore the third and fonrth sc-elious of the act are bevond that limit they are unauthorized. Tho ttatuto conteraplates a most important change in the election laws. Previous to its adoption the Staten as a general rule regulated in their owu WM tho details of all elections. They preHcnbed the quahncations of voters and the manuer in which those offering to vote at au electioa should make kuown their qualifications to tbo oflicers in charge. This act interferes with this practice, aud prescribes rules not provided by tlio laws of States. It substitutos under cerlain circumstances the performance wrongfully prevented for the performance itseir. If the elector makes and present his aflidavit in the f orm and to the effect prescribed, the inspectora are to treat this as equivalent of the specified requirement of the State law This is a radical chauge in practice, and the statute which creates it sbou!d bo explicit in ite terms. Notuing should be left to construction if it can be a%-oidod. The law ought uot to be in such a condition that an elector may act upon one idea of its meaning and the iuspector upon another. The oleetor under tho provisïons of the statute is only required to state in bis aftidavit thut ho bas beon wrongfullv prevented by the oflicer from qualifying. There are n words of limitatioi in tbis part of the section. In a case like this, if an aflidavit is in the language of tho statute, it ought to be sufficient both for tho voter and the inspector. Lawa which prohibit doiug of things and proyido a punishment for their violation, should have uo doublé meaning. a citizen should not unDecessanJy be placed whcre, by an honest eiTor in the construclion of a penal statute. he may bo subjected to a proseeution for a false oath. and an inspector of elections should not be put in jeopardy because be, with equal honesty, enterUins an opposite opinión. If this statute hmits the wrongful act which will iustifv an aflidavit to discriminatiou on account of race, etc., then a citizen who makea an aftidavit tliat he liaa been wrongfullv prevented by tho omoer, which ia trua in tho ordinary oeiise of tho term, snbjecta bimself to iudictment and trial ïf ïiot to eouvicüon, becauae it ia not true that he bas been prevonted by such a wrongf ui act as the statute coutemplated, and f tbore is 110 such hmitation, bilt any wrongful act of exclusión will juatify the aflidavit and give the nght to vote without, the actual performance of the prerequisito, then the inspector who rejecte tlie vote becaiiHC he reads law in its limited sense and thiuks it is confined to a wrongful discriniinatiou on account of race etc, tmbjocta himself to prosecution if not to pumsbment, because he has miaconstrued tho law. When we go bevond the tliird scction and read tho fouith we find there no words of hmitation or reference, even, that can be construcd as manifeatiug any intention to confine ïti provisions to the têrms of the ! fifteenth amendment. That section bas for its object the puuiahmcnt of all pereons who by force, bribery, etc, hinder, delay, etc, any pereon from qnalifyiDg or TOting. In view of all these facts we feel e mpolled to Bay that 'n our opiuion, the languagt. of the tbird and fourth aections does not confino their operation to unlawful diacriminations on account of race, etc. If Congreas had power to provide generally for the puniBhmeut of those who unlawfully mtcrfero to prevent the exereise of tho electivo franchise, without regard to such discnmmatioiis, the langnage of these Bections would bo broad enough for that purpoeo. It remanís now to consider wliether a etatnte ho general as tbis in it provisious can be made availablo for the punishment of those who may bo guilty of unlaivful diHRi-imination against nitizons of the Unitod State while oxercisiug the electivo franchise on account of their raco te. Tliore is no attempt in tho sections now unrter consideraron to próvido specificallv for Buch an offcHse. If the case is provided for at all it is beeauao it cornos under the general prohibilion against any wrongful act or unlawful obatruction in tuin particular. We are, thercforo, direcliy called upon to decide whether a penal statute enactcd by Congrega with its limited powers, which provides, in general hiHgnage broal enongh to cover a wrongf ui act, without as well as within the Constitution, jurixdicüou eau ue limited by judicial conKtrucliou no as to make it opérate only on that wliich Congresa may rightfully proliibit and punish. For tliia purpoae we muat take theso 8octions of the Btatute as they are. We are not ablo to reject a part which ís unconstitutional and retain tho remainder, because it is not posaiblo to Heparao that which is uncomtitutional. if there be any auch, fmm that which is not. The proposed effect is not to bo attained by striking out or ditnogardiug words that are in the sectiou, but by insorting thoso that are nót now there. Each of tho eoctions must stand as a whole or f all togetl i er. The languuge is plaiu ; there is no room for miscoiwtruction, unless it be as to tho effoco of the Constitution. The queation tliou to be detorniined is whethor we can introduce words of limitation into a penal statuut so as to make it specific when, as expressod, it is general only. It would certaiuly bo daugerous if the Legislatura coiúd sot a net laige enough to catoh all possible offenders, and leave it to to tho eourta to stop inaide aud say who could be rightfully detained, and who should be aet at lai-go. This would to somo extent substituto tho judicial for the legislativo department of ïho üoveniment. The courts enforce tho legislativo will when ascetained if within the constitntional grant of power. Within itx legitimato sphere Congroas is supremo and boyond the control of the conrts, but if it teps ontside of ita constitutional limitatiou aud attempts that wliich íh bevond its reach, the courta aro authorized to, and when i called upon in duo coursoof Jegal proceedingH. must annul its encroachments upon the roserve3 power of the United States and tho people. To limit this atatute in tho marnier now a.-ked for would be to malie a new law - not to enforce au old oue. This is uo part of our dnty. We must thercfore decide that Congresa has not as yet provided by appnjïiate lerÍKlatioii for the punishment of the fffense chaived in tho imlictment. aml that tho Circuit court properly Hiistained the demurrers and gave judgment for the defendahtsi Tliiu makes it nnueeessarv to angwer any of the other qiiontioiiH oertifled, nince the law WBich gives thyjtrcrtiding jnclo tlie caating vote in OASêfl ói divirtiou and uuthorizes a jtidiímoiit in with bis opiuion (Itevised Statute. scction C50) ia that if we find that the judgmeut as renderod is correct we neod oot do more than uiinn. If. however. wo rovcreo, nll tliO (]uoations cci tiiicd which maybo considerod in a i ii uil 'Ujiormimition of the cane, according to the opinión we expresa, should be ! swored. The judgment of tho circuit is flrmed. Mr. Jnatice Kunt aud Mr. Justicn ClinOrd disaented from the opinión, but concurred in judgtnent. ïhebe's a letter in the Detroit postoffice for Capt. Kidd. Tlio wrjter, by ! uidrossing the captain at that placo, shows a perfect knowledge of tho j itantH of Detroit. - Chicago Ti A. postatj Bervioe organized on tho E'.u-opeíiu plan is iu oporatian iu P-s,,


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