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standard with which it is associated in the suffrage amendment.

No time need be spent on the question of the validity of the literacy test considered alone since as we have seen its establishment was but the exercise by the State of a lawful power vested in it not subject to our supervision, and indeed, its validity is admitted. Whether this test is so connected with the other one relating to the situation on January 1, 1866, that the invalidity of the latter requires the rejection of the former is really a question of state law, but in the absence of any decision on the subject by the Supreme Court of the State, we must determine it for ourselves. We are of opinion that neither forms of classification nor methods of enumeration should be made the basis of striking down a provision which was independently legal and therefore was lawfully enacted because of the removal of an illegal provision with which the legal provision or provisions may have been associated. We state what we hold to be the rule thus strongly because we are of opinion that on a subject like the one under consideration involving the establishment of a right whose exercise lies at the very basis of government a much more exacting standard is required than would ordinarily obtain where the influence of the declared unconstitutionality of one provision of a statute upon another and constitutional provision is required to be fixed. Of course, rigorous as is this rule and imperative as is the duty not to violate it, it does not mean that it applies in a case where it expressly appears that a contrary conclusion must be reached if the plain letter and necessary intendment of the provision under consideration so compels, or where such a result is rendered necessary because to follow the contrary course would give rise to such an extreme and anomalous situation as would cause it to be impossible to conclude that it could have been upon any hypothesis whatever within the mind of the law-making power.

Does the general rule here govern or is the case controlled by one or the other of the exceptional conditions which we have just stated, is then the remaining question to be decided. Coming to solve it we are of opinion that by a consideration of the text of the suffrage amendment in so far as it deals with the literacy test and to the extent that it creates the standard based upon conditions existing on January 1, 1866, the case is taken out of the general rule and brought under the first of the exceptions stated. We say this because in our opinion the very language of the suffrage amendment expresses, not by implication nor by forms of classification nor by the order in which they are made, but by direct and positive language the command that the persons embraced in the 1866 standard should not be under any conditions subjected to the literacy test, a command which would be virtually set at naught if on the obliteration of the one standard by the force of the Fifteenth Amendment the other standard should be held to continue in force.

The reasons previously stated dispose of the case and make it plain that it is our duty to answer the first question, No, and the second, Yes; but before we direct the entry of an order to that effect we come briefly to dispose of an issue the consideration of which we have hitherto postponed from a desire not to break the continuity of discussion as to the general and important subject before


In various forms of statement not challenging the instructions given by the trial court concretely considered concerning the liability of the election officers for their official conduct, it is insisted that as in connection with the instructions the jury was charged that the suffrage amendment was unconstitutional because of its repugnancy to the Fifteenth Amendment, therefore taken as a whole the charge was erroneous. But we are of opinion that this contention is without merit, especially in view of the doctrine long since settled concerning the selfexecuting power of the Fifteenth Amendment and of what we have held to be the nature and character of the suffrage amendment in question. The contention concerning the inapplicability of § 5508, Rev. Stat., now § 19 of the Penal Code, or of its repeal by implication, is fully answered by the ruling this day made in United States v. Mosley, No. 180, post, p. 383.

We answer the first question, No, and the second question, Yes.

And it will be so certified.

MR. JUSTICE MCREYNOLDS took no part in the consideration and decision of this case.


(271 U.S. 323 (1925))


No. 104. Argued January 8, 1926.-Decided May 24, 1926.

1. This Court has no jurisdiction of an appeal from the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia founded on alleged constitutional questions so unsubstantial as to be plainly without color of merit and frivolous. P. 329.

2. The Fifth Amendment is a limitation upon the powers of the General Government and is not directed against individuals. P. 330.

3. The Thirteenth Amendment denouncing slavery and involuntary servitude, that is, a condition of enforced compulsory service of one to another, does not in other matters protect the individual rights of persons of the negro race. Id.

4. The prohibitions of the Fourteenth Amendment have reference to state action exclusively, and not to any action of private individuals. Individual invasion of individual rights is not the subjectmatter of the Amendment. Id.

5. Not by any of these Amendments, nor by §§ 1977-1979 Rev. Stats., are private lot owners prohibited from entering into twentyone year mutual covenants not to sell to any person of negro blood or race. P. 331.

6. The contention that such an indenture is void as against public policy does not involve the construction or application of the Constitution or draw in question the construction of the above sections of the Revised Statutes; and therefore affords no basis for an appeal to this Court under § 250, Judicial Code, from a decree of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia. P. 330. 7. A contention, to constitute ground for appeal, should be raised by the petition for appeal and assignment of errors. P. 331.

S. Mere error of a court in a judgment entered after full hearing does not constitute a denial of due process of law. Id. Appeal from 55 App. D. C. 30; 299 Fed. 899; dismissed.

APPEAL from a decree of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, which affirmed a decree of the Supreme Court of the District in favor of Buckley in a suit to enjoin the defendant Corrigan from selling a lot

in Washington to the defendant Curtis, in violation of an indenture entered into by Buckley, Corrigan and other land owners whereby they mutually covenanted and bound themselves, their heirs and assigns, for twentyone years, not to sell to any person of negro race or blood.

Messrs. Louis Marshall and Moorfield Storey, with whom Messrs. James A. Cobb, Henry E. Davis, William H. Lewis, James P. Schick, Arthur B. Spingarn, and Herbert K. Stockton were on the brief, for appellants.

The decrees of the courts below constitute a violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, in that they deprive the appellants of their liberty and property without due process of law. Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U. S. 60; Strauder v. West Virginia, 100 U. S. 303; Virginia v. Rives, 100 U. S. 313; United States v. Harris, 106 U. S. 629; Scott v. McNeal, 154 U. S. 34; Chicago, B. & Q. R. R. Co. v. Chicago, 166 U. S. 226; Home Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Los Angeles, 227 U. S. 278; Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land & Imp. Co., 18 How. 276; Hovey v. Elliott, 167 U. S. 409.

For the reasons considered in Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U. S. 60, it would have been beyond the legislative power to have enacted that a covenant in the precise terms of that involved in the present case should be enforceable by the courts by suit in equity and by means of a decree of specific performance, an injunction, and proceedings for contempt for failure to obey the decree. It seems inconceivable that, so long as the legislature refrains from passing such an enactment, a court of equity may, by its command, compel the specific performance of such a covenant, and thus give the sanction of the judicial department of the Government to an act which it was not within the competency of its legislative branch to authorize. This Court has repeatedly included the judicial department within the inhibitions against the violation of

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