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brought up to the Supreme Court of the United States, only in three cases:
(1.) Where the validity of a treaty, or statute of, or authority exercised under the United States, was drawn in question in the State Court, and the decision was against its validity.
(2.) Where the validity of any Ştate authority was drawn in question, on the ground of its being contrary to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, and the decision was in favour of its validity.
(3.) Where the construction of any.clause of the Constitution, or of a treaty or statute of, or commission held under the United States, was drawn in question, and the decision was against the title or right claimed under the authority of the United States.
$ 528. By an act approved February 24, 1855, Congress established a court, called the Court of Claims, consisting of three judges, appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, to hold their office during good behaviour. It is the duty of this court to hear and determine all claims founded upon any law of Congress, or upon any regulation of an executive department, or upon any contract express or implied, with the government of the United States, which may be suggested to it by a petition filed therein; and also all claims which may be referred to the court by either House of Congress. An officer, called the Solicitor for the United States, is appointed by the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to represent the government before the court.
$ 529. It is the duty of this court to examine all the claims presented to it, to take testimony in reference thereto, to pronounce judgment either for or against the claim, and to keep a record of its proceedings. At tho commencement of each session of Congress, and at the commencement of each month during the session of Congress, the court is to report to Congress the cases upon which they shall have finally acted, stating in each the material facts which they find established by the evidence, with their opinion in the case, and the reasons upon which such opinion is founded; and where the court have determined favourably upon a claim, they, together with the testimony in each case, are to present, along with their report, a bill, which, if enacted by Congress, will carry the decision of the court into effect. The reports of the court, and the proposed bills are then acted upon by Congress when presented, or continued to the following session, and so from Congress to Congress, until finally disposed of.
$ 530. If the report of the court is adverse to the claim, and that decision is confirmed by Congress, such decision is conclusive, and the court cannot at any subsequent period consider those claims, unless such reasons are presented, as by the rules of law, in suits between individuals, would be sufficient ground for granting a new trial.
(Clause 3.] “The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.”
$ 531. Impeachments, as we have seen, are tried by the Senate; but the trial of all other crimes is to be by jury. A jury is a body of men selected according to law, for the purpose of inquiring into, and deciding some matter of fact. The jury intended by this clause, consists of twelve citizens, duly qualified by law to serve on juries, selected and sworn to decide questions of fact submittted to them in a court of justice. The decision which they render is called a verdict.
$ 532. The provision that all trials for crimes shall be held in the State where such crimes shall have been committed, is intended to prevent the accused person from being exposed to the expense and danger of a trial at a distance from his residence, or at a place where he might not be able to procure the attendance of his witnesses.
$ 533. If the crime was not committed within a State, as, for instance, on the high seas, Congress may by law direct where the trial shall take place. Such crimes have been directed to be tried in the Circuit or the District courts.
SECTION. 3. [Clause 1.] “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
$ 534. The Constitution here declares that treason against the United States shall consist only in two things, namely :
(1.) In levying war against the United States.
(2.) In adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
$ 535. Levying war is the assembling of a body of men to effect by force a treasonable object. A mere conspiracy or agreement to levy war, does not amount to levying war; there must be an actual assembling of men for a treason. able purpose, in order to constitute a levying of war. If war be actually levied, all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are really leagued in the general attempt, are to be considered as traitors.
$ 536. Treason is the highest crime against a government, for it is a breach of allegiance; and history shows that in other countries, during times of great political excitement, there is a strong tendency to raise lower offences up to the grade of treason, and punish them as such. It was to prevent this that the Constitution defines particu larly what shall constitute treason.
$ 537. It was the same spirit of moderation and caution which led to the other part of the clause, requiring the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt or open act, or else a confession in open court, to justify a conviction for treason. The clearest evidence of guilt is required, because the offence is one of the most serious character.
[Clause 2.] “The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”
$ 538. An act of Congress passed in 1790, declares that the punishment of treason shall be death by hanging.
The same act provides that whoever has knowledge of the commission of treason against the United States, and shall conceal, and not, as soon as may be, disclose the same to the President of the United States, or to one of the federal judges, or to the governor or a judge of a particular State, shall, on conviction thereof, suffer an imprisonment not exceeding seven years, and be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars. A knowledge and con
cealment of treason, without assenting to it, is termed misprision of treason.
$ 539. When sentence of death was pronounced, especially after conviction of treason, its consequence, by the ancient law of England, was attainder, and the criminal was said, as a mark of infamy, to become attaint, signifying stained or blackened.
$ 540. Attainder led to a forfeiture of all the lands and personal property of the criminal, to the king; also to what was termed corruption of blood, which disabled the attainted person from inheriting lands from his ancestors, or retaining those he was already in possession of, or transmitting them by descent to his heirs.
$ 541. The result of such attainder and corruption of blood, was really to inflict penalties after the death of the criminal, upon his descendants, for the crime of their ancestor. The Constitution humanely limits the effect of this punishment to the offender himself during his life-time, for it declares that no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attainted.
$ 542. The clause, however, does not make attainder and corruption of blood a part of the punishment of treason; it simply enacts that Congress shall declare what the punishment of treason shall be, and limits the effect of attainder, should that be made a part of the punishment, to the life of the person attainted. Congress, by an act passed in 1790, enacted that no conviction or judgment for any capital or other offences, shall work corruption of blood, or any forfeiture of estate.