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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
ANDREW J. VOLSTEAD, Minnesota, Chairman. GEORGE S. GRAHAM, Pennsylvania.
ROBERT Y. THOMAS, JR., Kentucky. L. C. DYER, Missouri.
HATTON W. SUMNERS, Texas. JOSEPH WALSH, Massachusetts.
ANDREW J. MONTAGUE, Virginia. C. FRANK REAVIS, Nebraska.
JAMES W. WISE, Georgia. DAVID G. CLASSON, Wisconsin.
JOHN N. TILLMAN, Arkansas. W. D. BOIES. Iowa.
FRED H. DOMINICK, South Carolina.
G. S. JAMESON, Clerk,
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF A FEDERAL ANTILYNCHING LAW.
SERIAL 10 - PART 2.
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
Wednesday, July 20, 1921.
NEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES.
Mr. GoFF. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the Judiciary Committee, I have been asked, as a representative of the Department of Justice, to come before your committee and discuss the constitutionality of House bill 13, which is a bill to insure to persons within the jurisdiction of every State the equal protection of the laws, and to punish the crime of lynching.
The time I have had at my disposal to consider this question has not been as ample as I desired. This is not offered in the way of an apology, but rather as a reflection upon the importance of the matter under investigation.
This is an important bill, as a mere reading makes clear. I have read the bill several times, and for the purpose of premising what I have to submit it will be well to refer to the analysis of the bill contained in the majority report of the committee relative to the purposes sought to be subserved.
Mr. GOODYKOONTZ. That is the report made at the last session of Congress?
Mr. GoFF. Yes.
Mr. GOFF. Yes, sir. I have considered the bill substantially in the light of such statements, and I find that this analysis is correct. Sections 1 to 5 are based upon the present law relating to the removal of suits from State to Federal courts in cases where local prejudice is charged; sections 6 and 7 increase the penalty now imposed by law upon persons who “knowingly and willfully obstruct, resist, or oppose any officer of the United States or other person duly authorized” in serving any process; sections 8 and 9 confer jurisdiction upon the United States courts for any infraction of the rights sought to be conferred in the preceding sections; section 10 exacts from the county in which a person is lynched a penalty recoverable in an action to be brought by the United States district attorney in the name of the United States; section 11 makes every county through which a person is taken by a mob, from the place where he is taken to that where he is killed, equally liable to a like penalty for the murder; sections 12 and 13 punish State and municipal officers whose negligence, misfeasance, or malfeasance may have: contributed to a lynching with imprisonment or fine; section 14 disqualifies various classes of persons in sympathy with the lynching from serving on juries charged with the trial of such cases; and section 15 was prepared years ago by a committee of the American Bar Association, and its passage has been recommended to Congress by not less than four Presidents, including President Wilson.
This bill, gentlemen, seeks to confer upon the Federal courts jurisdiction to enforce the law and maintain the peace of the United States, which is nothing more than the so-called police power of the United States. You are familiar with that “excursion," if I may so term it, of the Supreme Court into the field of Federal police power. It was first announced in Gibbons v. Ogden (9 Wheat., 202), and has found definite application in the so-called white-slave cases. I recall those decisions distinctly because at that time I was engaged as an attorney for the United States in the interpretation and enforcement of the white-slave law. In Gibbons v. Ogden supra : Chief Justice Marshall (at p. 202) said: “It is obvious that the Government of the Union in the exericse of its express powers * * * may use means that may also be employed by a State in the exercise of its acknowledged powers.” In the case which held the white-slave law constitutiona), Hoke against the United States (227 U. S., pp. 308 and 309), the court said:
While our dual form of Government has its perplexities, State and Nation having different spheres of jurisdiction, we are one people and the powers reserved to the States and those conferred on the Nation are adapted to be exercised, whether independently or concurrently, to promote the general welfare, material and moral.
The white-slare traffic act is a legal exercise of the power of Congress under the commerce clause of the ('osstitution and does not abridge the privileges