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her failure to register was then discovered and she was prosecuted, convicted and fined.
The majority of the Supreme Court found that she had no notice of the ordinance, that it was not likely to be known, that it was a measure merely for the convenience of the police, that the defendant had no opportunity to comply with it after learning of it and before being prosecuted, that she did not act willfully in failing to register, that she was not "blameworthy'' in failing to do so, and that her conviction involved a denial of due process of law.
“A DEVIATION FROM PRECEDENTS' This decision was reached only after argument and reargument. Mr. Justice Frankfurter wrote a short dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Harlan and Mr. Justice Whittaker joined. He referred to the great number of State and federal statutes which imposed criminal penalties for nonfeasance and stated that he felt confident that “the present decision will turn out to be an isolated deviation from the strong current of precedents-a derelict on the waters of the law."
We shall not comment in this report upon the broad sweep which the Supreme Court now gives to habeas-corpus proceedings. Matters of this sort seem to fall within the scope of the Committee of this Conference on the Habeas Corpus Bill which has been advocated for some years by this Conference for enactment by the Congress of the United States, and has been supported by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the American Bar Association, the Association of Attorneys General and the Department of Justice.
We cannot, however, completely avoid any reference at all to habeas-corpus matters
because what is probably the most far-reaching decision of recent years on State criminal procedure which has been rendered by the Supreme Court is itself very close to a habeas-corpus case. That is the case of Griffin v. Illinois, 351 U.S. 12, which arose under the Illinois Post Conviction Procedure Act.
The substance of the holding in that case may perhaps be briefly and accurately stated in this way: If a transcript of the record, or its equivalent, is essential to an effective appeal, and if a State permits an appeal by those able to pay for the cost of the record or its equivalent, then the State must furnish without expense to an indigent defendant either a transcript of the record at his trial, or an equivalent thereof, in order that the indigent defendant may have an equally effective right of appeal. Otherwise, the inference seems clear, the indigent defendant must be released upon habeas corpus or similar proceedings.
Probably no one would dispute the proposition that the poor man should not be deprived of the opportunity for a meritorious appeal simply because of his poverty. The practical problems which flow from the decision in Griffin v. Illinois are, however, almost unlimited and are now only in course of development and possible solution. This was extensively discussed at the 1957 meeting of this Conference of Chief Justices in New York.
We may say at this point that, in order to give full effect to the doctrine of Griffin v. Illinois, we see no basis for distinction between the cost of the record and other expenses to which the defendant will necessarily be put in the prosecution of an appeal. These include filing fees, the cost of printing the brief and of such part of the record as may be necessary, and counsel fees.
The Griffin case was very recently given retroactive effect by the Supreme Court in a per curiam (by the court as a whole opinion in Eskridge v. Washington State Board of Prison Terms and Paroles, 78 S. Ct. 1061. In that case the de fendant, who was convicted in 1935, gave timely notice of an appeal. His application then made for a copy of the transcript of the trial proceedings to be furnished at public expense was denied by the trial judge.
A statute provided for so furnishing a transcript if "in his (the trial judge's) opinion, justice will thereby be promoted.” The trial judge found that justice would not be promoted, in that the defendant had had a fair and impartial trial, and that, in his opinion, no grave or prejudicial errors had occurred in the trial.
The defendant then sought a writ of mandate from the Supreme Court of the State, ordering the trial judge to have the transcript furnished for the prosecution of his appeal. This was denied and his appeal was dismissed.
In 1956 he instituted habeas-corpus proceedings which, on June 16, 1958, resulted in a reversal of the Washington court's decision and a remand "for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion." It was conceded that the "reporter's transcript” from the trial was still available. In what form it exists does not appear from the Supreme Court's opinion. As in Griffin, it was held that an adequate substitute for the transcript might be furnished in lieu of the transcript itself.
Justices Harlan and Whittaker dissented briefly on the ground that “on this record the Griffin case decided in 1956 should not be applied to this conviction occurring in 1935.” This accords with the view expressed by Mr. Justice Frankfurter in his concurring opinion in Griffin that it should not be retroactive. He did not participate in the Eskridge case.
Just where Griffin v. Illinois may lead us is rather hard to say. That it will mean a vast increase in criminal appeals and a huge case load for appellate courts seems almost to go without saying. There are two possible ways in which the meritorious appeals might be taken care of and the nonmeritorious appeals eliminated.
One would be to apply a screening process to appeals of all kinds, whether taken by the indigent or by persons well able to pay for the cost of appeals. It seems very doubtful that legislatures generally would be willing to curtain the absolute right of appeal in criminal cases which now exists in many jurisdictions.
Another possible approach would be to require some showing of merit before permitting an appeal to be taken by an indigent defendant at the expense of the State.
Whether this latter approach, which we may call “screening,' would be practical or not is, to say the least, very dubious. First, let us look at a federal statute and Supreme Court decisions thereunder. What is now subsection (a) of Section 1915 of Title 28, U.S.C.A. contains a sentence reading as follows: “Àn appeal may not be taken in forma pauperis (as a poor man] if the trial court certifies in writing that it is not taken in good faith.
This section or a precursor thereof was involved in Miller v. United States, 317 U.S. 192, Johnson v. United States, 352 U S. 565, and Farley v. United States, 354 U.S. 521, 523. In the Miller case the Supreme Court held that the discretion of the trial court in withholding such a certificate was subject to review on appeal, and that, in order that such a review might be made by the Court of Appeals, it was necessary that it have before it either the transcript of the record or an adequate substitute therefor, which might consist of the trial judge's notes or of an agreed statement as to the points on which review was sought.
Similar holdings were made by per curiam opinion in the Johnson and Farley cases, in each of which the trial court refused to certify that the appeal was taken in good faith. In each case, though perhaps more clearly in Johnson, the trial court seems to have felt that the proposed appeal was frivolous, and hence not in good faith.
The Eskridge case, above cited, decided on June 16, 1958, rejected the screening process under the State statute there involved, and appears to require, under the Fourteenth Amendment, that a full appeal be allowed—not simply a review of the screening process, as under the federal statute above cited. The evect of the Eskridge case thus seems rather clearly to be that, unless all appeals, at least in the same types of cases, are subject to screening, none may be.
It would seem that it may be possible to make a valid classification of appeals which shall be subject to screening and of appeals which shall not. Such a classification might be based upon the gravity of the offense or possibly upon the sentence imposed. In most, if not all, States, such a classification would doubtless require legislative action. In the Griffin case, it will be recalled, the Supreme Court stated that a substitute for an actual transcript of the record would be acceptable if it were sufficient to present the points upon which the defendant based his appeal. The Supreme Court suggested the possible use of bystanders' bills of exceptions.
It seems probable to us that an actual transcript of the record will be required in most cases. For example, in cases where the basis for appeal is the alleged insufficiency of the evidence, it may be very difficult to eliminate from that part of the record which is to be transcribed portions which seem to have no immediate bearing upon this question. A statement of the facts to be agreed upon by trial counsel for both sides may be still more difficult to achieve even with the aid of the trial judge.
The danger of swamping some State appellate courts under the flood of appeals which may be loosed by Griffin and Eskridge is not a reassuring prospect. * How far Eskridge may lead and whether it will be extended beyond its facts remain to be seen.
CONCLUSIONS: THE JUSTICES SUM UP This long review, though far from exhaustive, shows some of the uncertainties as to the distribution of power which are probably inevitable in a federal system of government. It also shows, on the whole, a continuing and, we think, an accelerating
trend toward increasing power of the National Government and correspondingly contracted power of the State governments.
Much of this is doubtless due to the fact that many matters which were once mainly of local concern are now parts of larger matters which are of national
Much of this stems from the doctrine of a strong, central Government and of the plenitude of national power within broad limits of what may be necessary and proper” in the exercise of the granted powers of the National Government which was expounded and established by Chief Justice Marshall and his colleagues, though some of the modern extensions may and do seem to us to go to extremes. Much, however, comes from the extent of the control over the action of the States which the Supreme Court exercises under its views of the Fourteenth Amendment.
We believe that strong State and local governments are essential to the effective functioning of the American system of federal government; that they should not be sacrified needlessly to leveling, and sometimes deadening, uniformity; and that, in the interest of active, citizen participation in self-government–the foundation of our democracy—they should be sustained and strengthened.
As long as this country continues to be a developing country and as long as the conditions under which we live continue to change, there will always be problems of the allocation of power depending upon whether certain matters should be regarded as primarily of national concern or as primarily of local con
These adjustments can hardly be effected without some friction. How much friction will develop depends in part upon the wisdom of those empowered to alter the boundaries and in part upon the speed with which such changes are effected. Of course, the question of speed really involves the exercise of judgment and the use of wisdom, so that the two things are really the same in substance.
We are now concerned specifically with the effect of judicial decisions upon the relations between the Federal Government and the State governments.
Here we think that the over-all tendency of decisions of the Supreme Court over the last 25 years or more has been to press the extension of federal power and to press it rapidly.
There have been, of course, and still are, very considerable differences within the Court on these matters, and there has been quite recently a growing recognition of the fact that our government is still a federal government and that the historic line which experience seems to justify between matters primarily of national concern and matters primarily of local concern should not be hastily or lightly obliterated. A number of Justices have repeatedly demonstrated their awareness of problems of federalism and their recognition that federalism is still a living part of our system of government.
The extent to which the Supreme Court assumes the function of policy maker is also of concern to us in the conduct of our judicial business. We realize that in the course of American history the Supreme Court has frequently—one might, indeed, say customarily-exercised policy-making powers going far beyond those involved, say, in making a selection between competing rules of law.
We believe that, in the fields with which we are concerned and as to which we feel entitled to speak, the Supreme Court too often has tended to adopt the role of policy maker without proper judicial restraint. We feel this is particularly the case in both of the great fields we have discussed-namely, the extent and extension of the federal power, and the supervision of State action by the Supreme Court by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment. In the light of the immense power of the Supreme Court and its practical nonreviewability in most instances, no more important obligation rests upon it, in our view, than that of careful moderation in the exercise of its policy-making role. We are not alone in our view that the Court
, in many cases arising under the Fourteenth Amendment, has assumed what seem to us primarily legislative powers. See Judge Learned Hand on the Bill of Rights.
We do not believe that either the framers of the original Constitution or the possibly somewhat less gifted draftsmen of the Fourteenth Amendment ever contemplated that the Supreme Court would, or should, have the almost unlimited policy-making powers which it now exercises.
It is strange, indeed, to reflect that, under a Constitution which provides for & system of checks and balances and of distribution of power between national and State governments, one branch of one government-the Supreme Court-should attain the immense and, in many respects, dominant power which it now wields. We believe that the great principle of distribution of powers among the various branches of government and between levels of government has vitality today and is the crucial base of our democracy.
We further believe that, in construing and applying the Constitution and laws made in pursuance thereof, this principle of the division of power based upon whether a matter is primarily of national or of local concern should not be lost sight of or ignored, especially in fields which bear upon the meaning of a constitutional or statutory provision, or the validity of State action presented for review. For, with due allowance for the changed conditions under which it may or must operate, the principle is as worthy of our consideration today as it was of the consideration of the great men who met in 1787 to establish our nation as a nation.
"DOUBT" IN RECENT DECISIONS It has long been an American boast that we have a government of laws and not of men. We believe that any study of recent decisions of the Supreme Court will raise at least considerable doubt as to the validity of that boast. We find first that, in constitutional cases, unanimous decisions are comparative rarities and that multiple opinions, concurring or dissenting, are common occurrences.
We find next that divisions in result on a 5-to-4 basis are quite frequent. We find further that, on some occasions, a majority of the Court cannot be mustered in support of any one opinion and that the result of a given case may come from the divergent views of individual Justices who happen to unite on one outcome or the other of the case before the Court.
We further find that the Court does not accord finality to its own determinations of constitutional questions, or for that matter of others. We concede that a slavish adherence to stare decisis could at times have unfortunate consequences; but it seems strange that under a constitutional doctrine which requires all others to recognize the Supreme Court's rulings on consititutional questions as binding adjudications of the meaning and application of the Constitution, the Court itself has 80 frequently overturned its own decisions thereon, after the lapse of periods varying from 1 year to 75, or even 95 years. See the tables appended to Mr. Justice Douglas's address on "Stare Decisis,” 49 Columbia Law Review 735, 756–758.
The Constitution expressly sets up its own procedures for amendment, slow or cumbersome though they may be.
These frequent differences and occasional overrulings of prior decisions in constitutional cases cause us grave concern as to whether individual views of the members of the Court as from time to time constituted, or of a majority thereof, as to what is wise or desirable do not unconsciously override a more dispassionate consideration of what is or is not constitutionally warranted. We believe that the latter is the correct approach, and we have no doubt that every member of the Supreme Court intends to adhere to that approach, and believes that he does so.
It is our earnest hope, which we respectfully express, that that great Court exercise to the full its power of judicial self-restraint by adhering firmly to its tremendous, stridly judicial powers and by eschewing, so far as possible, the exercise of essentially legislative powers when it is called upon to decide questions involving the validity of State action, whether it deems such action wise or unwise. The value of our system of federalism, and of local self-government in local matters which it embodies, should be kept firmly in mind, as we believe it was by those who framed our Constitution.
At times the Supreme Court manifests, or seems to manifest, an impatience with the slow workings of our federal system. That impatience may extend to an unwillingness to wait for Congress to make clear its intention to exercise the powers conferred upon it under the Constitution, or the extent to which it undertakes to exercise them, and it may extend to the slow processes of amending the Constitution which that instrument provides.
The words of Elihu Root on the opposite side of the problem, asserted at a time when demands were current for recall of judges and judicial decisions, bear repeating: "if the people of our country yield to impatience which would destroy the system that alone makes effective these great impersonal rules and preserves our constitutional government, rather than endure the temporary inconvience of pursuing regulated methods of changing the law, we shall not be reforming. We shall not be making progress, but shall be exhibiting that lack of self-control which enables great bodies of men to abide the slow process of orderly government rather than to break down the barriers of order when they are struck by the impulse of the moment." Quoted in 31 "Boston University Law Review” 43.
We believe that what Mr. Root said is sound doctrine to be followed toward the Constitution, the Supreme Court and its interpretation of the Constitution. Surely, it is no less incumbent upon the Supreme Court, on its part, to be equally restrained and to be as sure as is humanly possible that it is adhering to the fundamentals of the Constitution with regard to the distribution of powers and the separation of powers, and with regard to the limitations of judicial power which
are implicit in such separation and distribution, and that it is not merely giving effect to what it may deem desirable.
We may expect the question as to what can be accomplished by the report of this Committee or by resolutions adopted in conformity with it. Most certainly some will say that nothing expressed here would deter a member or group of members of an independent judiciary from pursuing a planned course.
Let us grant that this may be true. The value of a firm statement by us lies in the fact that we speak as members of all the State appellate courts with a background of many years' experience in the determination of thousands of cases of all kinds. Surely there are those who will respect a declaration of what we believe.
And it just could be true that our statement might serve as an encouragement to those members of an independent judiciary who now or in the future may in their conscience adhere to views more consistent with our own.
Senator Ervin. I just add this: I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution according to the way I understand it, which is based upon the words of the Constitution and the decisions of the courts, from 1789 to date, and notwithstanding the fact, as you very emphatically state, that six Justices have agreed to decide that the 14th amendment means that Congress can reach individual action not connected with the State action under that amendment, despite the words of the amendment and despite an unbroken line of decisions to the contrary from 1868 to date, I am going to do the best I can to persuade Congress that it is its duty to stand by the Constitution, and reject those provisions of title V which offend the 14th amendment as it is worded, and as it has been interpreted.
I regret to take this action and to say these things, but I conceive it as my duty to my country and my fidelity to my oath to support the Constitution. I thank you for your patience.
STATEMENT OF HON. NICHOLAS deB. KATZENBACH, ATTORNEY
GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES; ACCOMPANIED BY DAVID SLAWSON, ATTORNEY ADVISER, OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL, AND ALAN MARER, ATTORNEY, CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE-Resumed
Attorney General KATZENBACH. Could I make a very brief comment, Senator?
Senator ERVIN. Just one minute. I want to put one other thing in. One of the most distinguished legal scholars in America is Professor Philip B. Kurland, of the Law School of the University of Chicago. I wish to put in the record at this point, in connection with Justice Jackson's remarks and the resolution of the 36 State chief justices, what Professor Kurland said about the action of the Supreme Court during recent years.
Attorney General KATZENBACH. Professor Kurland wrote that resolution.
Senator ERVIN. Yes.
THE COURT OF THE UNION OR JULIUS CAESAR REVISED Mr. President, on February 29, 1964, Prof. Philip B. Kurland of the Law School of the University of Chicago made a most illuminating address before a conference upon the so-called Court of the Union Amendment at the Law School of the University of Notre Dame. He entitled his address "The Court of the Union or Julius Caesar Revised."