MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the court.
The question for determination is whether the professional services of an attorney and counselor at law are property within the meaning of paragraph 2, § 17, of the Bankruptcy Act (30 Stat. 544, 550), as amended in 1903 (32 Stat. 797, 798), which excepts from the general release of a discharge "liabilities for obtaining property by false pretenses or false representations." The essential facts, in the words of the Circuit Court of Appeals, are these (196 Fed. Rep., p. 360):
The trial court, following Gleason v. Thaw (185 Fed. Rep. 345), overruled the demurrer and dismissed the complaint; the appellate court, upon the same authority, affirmed the judgment (196 Fed. Rep. 359).
Gleason v. Thaw, supra, came before the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upon a petition to review the final order of the District Court staying an action brought by Gleason on the same indebtedness here involved, and presented the identical question of law now before us. The court answered it in the negative, and among other things in an opinion by Judge Gray said (185 Fed. Rep., p. 347):
"The very ingenious and forceful argument presented to this court by the petitioner for review, is founded mainly upon the proposition that: `The right to command services of the value of $80,000.00 is property; the services also are property; the test is value — not degree of intangibility.'
The accurate delimitation of the concept property would afford a theme especially apposite for amplificative philosophic disquisition; but the Bankrupt Law is a prosy thing intended for ready application to the everyday affairs of practical business, and when construing its terms we are constrained by their usual acceptation in that field of endeavor. The word property, without restriction, occurs more than seventy times in the Act. Not once does it plainly refer to professional services, and, except in very few instances, to include them within its intendment would produce a patent absurdity. Reference to the following provisions will suffice to indicate the sense of the word therein. Section 1 (15) declares one shall be deemed insolvent "whenever the aggregate of his property, exclusive of any property which he may have conveyed, transferred, concealed, or removed . . . shall not, at a fair valuation, be sufficient in amount to pay his debts." Section 3-a provides that "acts of bankruptcy by a person
Congress, we think, never intended that property in the paragraph under consideration should include professional services. At most it denotes something subject to ownership, transfer or exclusive possession and enjoyment, which may be brought within the dominion and control of a court through some recognized process. This is certainly the full extent of the word's meaning as employed in ordinary speech and business and the same significance attaches to it in many carefully prepared writings. The constitutions of many States provide that all property shall be taxed, but it has never been supposed that this applies to professional services.
We do not overlook, nor do we intend to qualify, what this court has said in other cases. Our sole present concern is with the interpretation of a particular statute; the scope and purpose of constitutional limitations are in no way involved — they depend upon considerations of a wholly different character.
The court below reached a proper conclusion and its judgment is