These three cases were argued together, and may be disposed of in a single opinion. In each of the cases there was a conviction and sentence for violation of the so-called White Slave Traffic Act of June 25, 1910, 36 Stat. 825, the judgments were affirmed by the Circuit Courts of Appeals, and writs of certiorari bring the cases here.
In the Caminetti case, the petitioner was indicted in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, upon the sixth day of May, 1913, for alleged violations of the act. The indictment was in four counts, the first of which charged him with transporting and causing to be transported and aiding and assisting in
Diggs was indicted at the same time as was Caminetti, upon six counts, with only four of which are we concerned, inasmuch as there was no verdict upon the last two. The first count charged the defendant with transporting and causing to be transported and aiding and assisting in obtaining transportation for a certain woman from Sacramento, California, to Reno, Nevada, for the purpose of debauchery, and for an immoral purpose, to wit, that the aforesaid woman should be and become his concubine and mistress. The second count charged him with a like offense as to another woman (the companion of Caminetti) in transportation, etc., from Sacramento to Reno that she might become the mistress and concubine of Caminetti. The third count charged him (Diggs) with procuring a ticket for the first mentioned woman from Sacramento to Reno in interstate commerce, with the intent that she should become his concubine and mistress. The fourth count made a like charge as to the girl companion of Caminetti. Upon trial and verdict of guilty on these four counts, he was sentenced to imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of $2,000.00. As in the Caminetti case, that judgment was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals. 220 Fed. Rep. 545.
In the Hays case, upon June 26th, 1914, an indictment
It is contended that the act of Congress is intended to reach only "commercialized vice," or the traffic in women
It is elementary that the meaning of a statute must, in the first instance, be sought in the language in which the act is framed, and if that is plain, and if the law is within the constitutional authority of the law-making body which passed it, the sole function of the courts is to enforce it according to its terms. Lake County v. Rollins, 130 U.S. 662, 670, 671; Bate Refrigerating Co. v. Sulzberger, 157 U.S. 1, 33; United States v. Lexington Mill and Elevator Co., 232 U.S. 399, 409; United States v. Bank, 234 U.S. 245, 258.
Where the language is plain and admits of no more than one meaning the duty of interpretation does not arise and the rules which are to aid doubtful meanings need no discussion. Hamilton v. Rathbone, 175 U.S. 414, 421. There is no ambiguity in the terms of this act. It is specifically made an offense to knowingly transport or cause to be transported, etc., in interstate commerce, any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for "any other immoral purpose," or with the intent and purpose to induce any such woman or girl to become a prostitute or to give herself up to debauchery, or to engage in any other immoral practice.
Statutory words are uniformly presumed, unless the contrary appears, to be used in their ordinary and usual sense, and with the meaning commonly attributed to
While such immoral purpose would be more culpable in morals and attributed to baser motives if accompanied with the expectation of pecuniary gain, such considerations do not prevent the lesser offense against morals of furnishing transportation in order that a woman may be debauched, or become a mistress or a concubine from being the execution of purposes within the meaning of this law. To say the contrary would shock the common understanding of what constitutes an immoral purpose when those terms are applied, as here, to sexual relations.
In United States v. Bitty, 208 U.S. 393, it was held that the act of Congress against the importation of alien women and girls for the purpose of prostitution "and any other immoral purpose" included the importation of an alien woman to live in concubinage with the person importing her. In that case this court said:
"All will admit that full effect must be given to the intention of Congress as gathered from the words of the statute. There can be no doubt as to what class was aimed at by the clause forbidding the importation of alien women for purposes of `prostitution.' It refers to women who for hire or without hire offer their bodies to indiscriminate intercourse with men. The lives and example of such persons are in hostility to `the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one
This definition of an immoral purpose was given prior to the enactment of the act now under consideration, and
In this connection, it may be observed that while the title of an act cannot overcome the meaning of plain and unambiguous words used in its body, United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358, 386; Goodlett v. Louisville and Nashville Railroad, 122 U.S. 391, 408; Patterson v. Bark Eudora, 190 U.S. 169, 172; Cornell v. Coyne, 192 U.S. 418, 430; Lapina v. Williams, 232 U.S. 78, 92, the title of this act embraces the regulation of interstate commerce "by prohibiting the transportation therein for immoral purposes of women and girls, and for other purposes." It is true that
Reports to Congress accompanying the introduction of proposed laws may aid the courts in reaching the true meaning of the legislature in cases of doubtful interpretation, Blake v. National Banks, 23 Wall. 307, 319; Bate Refrigerating Co. v. Sulzberger, 157 U.S. 1, 42; Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. v. Manning, 186 U.S. 238, 246; Binns v. United States, 194 U.S. 486, 495. But, as we have already said, and it has been so often affirmed as to become a recognized rule, when words are free from doubt they must be taken as the final expression of the legislative intent, and are not to be added to or subtracted from by considerations drawn from titles or designating names or reports accompanying their introduction, or from any extraneous source. In other words, the language being plain, and not leading to absurd or wholly impracticable consequences, it is the sole evidence of the ultimate legislative intent. See Mackenzie v. Hare, 239 U.S. 299, 308.
The fact, if it be so, that the act as it is written opens the door to blackmailing operations upon a large scale, is no reason why the courts should refuse to enforce it according to its terms, if within the constitutional authority of Congress. Such considerations are more appropriately
It is further insisted that a different construction of the act than is to be gathered from reading it is necessary in order to save it from constitutional objections, fatal to its validity. The act has its constitutional sanction in the power of Congress over interstate commerce. The broad character of that authority was declared once for all in the judgment pronounced by this court, speaking by Chief Justice Marshall, in Gibbons v. Odgen, 9 Wheat. 1, and has since been steadily adhered to and applied to a variety of new conditions as they have arisen.
It may be conceded, for the purpose of the argument, that Congress has no power to punish one who travels in interstate commerce merely because he has the intention of committing an illegal or immoral act at the conclusion of the journey. But this act is not concerned with such instances. It seeks to reach and punish the movement in interstate commerce of women and girls with a view to the accomplishment of the unlawful purposes prohibited.
The transportation of passengers in interstate commerce, it has long been settled, is within the regulatory power of Congress, under the commerce clause of the Constitution, and the authority of Congress to keep the channels of interstate commerce free from immoral and injurious uses has been frequently sustained, and is no longer open to question.
Moreover, this act has been sustained against objections affecting its constitutionality of the character now urged. Hoke v. United States, 227 U.S. 308; Athanasaw v. United States, 227 U.S. 326; Wilson v. United States, 232 U.S. 563. In the Hoke Case, the constitutional objections were given consideration and denied upon grounds fully stated in the opinion (pp. 308 et seq.). It is true that the particular case arose from a prosecution of one charged with
After reviewing the Lottery Case, 188 U.S. 321, 357, and other cases in this court decided since the decision of that case, it was said in the Hoke Case (p. 323):
"The principle established by the cases is the simple one, when rid of confusing and distracting considerations, that Congress has power over transportation `among the several States'; that the power is complete in itself, and that Congress, as an incident to it, may adopt not only means necessary but convenient to its exercise, and the means may have the quality of police regulations. Gloucester Ferry Co. v. Pennsylvania, 114 U.S. 196, 215; Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, 7th ed. 856. We have no hesitation, therefore, in pronouncing the act of June 25, 1910, a legal exercise of the power of Congress."
Notwithstanding this disposition of the questions concerning the construction and constitutionality of the act, certain of the questions made are of sufficient gravity to require further consideration.
In the Diggs case, after referring to the fact that the defendant had taken the stand in his own behalf and that his testimony differed somewhat from that of the girls who had testified in the case, and instructing the jury that it was their province to ascertain the truth of the matter, the court further said: "After testifying to the relations between himself and Caminetti and these girls down to the Sunday night on which the evidence of the Government tends to show the trip to Reno was taken, he stops short and has given none of the details or incidents of that trip nor any direct statement of the intent or purpose with
This instruction, it is contended, was error in that it permitted the jury to draw inferences against the accused from failure to explain incriminating circumstances when it was within his power to do so, and thus operated to his prejudice and virtually made him a witness against himself in derogation of rights secured by the Fifth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.
There is a difference of opinion expressed in the cases upon this subject, the Circuit Court of Appeals in the Eighth Circuit holding a contrary view, as also did the
The accused of all persons had it within his power to meet, by his own account of the facts, the incriminating testimony of the girls. When he took the witness stand in his own behalf he voluntarily relinquished his privilege of silence, and ought not to be heard to speak alone of those things deemed to be for his interest and be silent where he or his counsel regarded it for his interest to remain so, without the fair inference which would naturally spring from his speaking only of those things which would exculpate him and refraining to speak upon matters within his knowledge which might incriminate him. The instruction to the jury concerning the failure of the accused to explain acts of an incriminating nature which the evidence for the prosecution tended to establish against him, and the inference to be drawn from his silence must be read in connection with the statement made in this part of the charge which clearly shows that the court was speaking with reference to the defendant's silence as to the trip to Reno with the girls named in the indictment, and as to the facts, circumstances and intent with which that trip was taken, and the jury was told that it had a right to take into consideration that omission.
The court did not put upon the defendant the burden
It is urged as a further ground of reversal of the judgments below that the trial court did not instruct the jury that the testimony of the two girls was that of accomplices, and to be received with great caution and believed only when corroborating by other testimony adduced in the case. We agree with the Circuit Court of Appeals that the requests in the form made should not have been given. In Holmgren v. United States, 217 U.S. 509, this court refused to reverse a judgment for failure to give an instruction of this general character, while saying that it was the better practice for courts to caution juries against too much reliance upon the testimony of accomplices and to require corroborating testimony before giving credence to such evidence. While this is so, there is no absolute rule of law preventing convictions on the testimony of accomplices if juries believe them. 1 Bishop's Criminal Procedure, 2nd ed., § 1081, and cases cited in the note.
Much is said about the character of the testimony adduced and as to certain facts tending to establish the guilt or innocence of the accused. This court does not weigh the evidence in a proceeding of this character, and it is enough to say that there was substantial testimony tending to support the verdicts rendered in the trial
The judgment in each of the cases is
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
MR. JUSTICE McKENNA, with whom concurred the CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE CLARKE, dissenting.
Undoubtedly in the investigation of the meaning of a statute we resort first to its words, and when clear they are decisive. The principle has attractive and seemingly disposing simplicity, but that it is not easy of application or, at least, encounters other principles, many cases demonstrate. The words of a statute may be uncertain in their signification or in their application. If the words be ambiguous, the problem they present is to be resolved by their definition; the subject-matter and the lexicons become our guides. But here, even, we are not exempt from putting ourselves in the place of the legislators. If the words be clear in meaning but the objects to which they are addressed be uncertain, the problem then is to determine the uncertainty. And for this a realization of conditions that provoked the statute must inform our judgment. Let us apply these observations to the present case.
The transportation which is made unlawful is of a woman or girl "to become a prostitute or to give herself up to debauchery, or to engage in any other immoral practice." Our present concern is with the words "any other immoral practice," which, it is asserted, have a special office. The words are clear enough as general descriptions; they fail in particular designation; they are class words; not specifications. Are they controlled by those which
For the context I must refer to the statute; of the purpose of the statute Congress itself has given us illumination. It devotes a section to the declaration that the "Act shall be known and referred to as the `White-slave traffic Act.'" And its prominence gives it prevalence in the construction of the statute. It cannot be pushed aside or subordinated by indefinite words in other sentences, limited even there by the context. It is a peremptory rule of construction that all parts of a statute must be taken into account in ascertaining its meaning, and it cannot be said that § 8 has no object. Even if it gives only a title to the act it has especial weight. United States v. Union Pacific R.R. Co., 91 U.S. 72, 82. But it gives more than a title; it makes distinctive the purpose of the statute. The designation "White-slave traffic" has the sufficiency of an axiom. If apprehended, there is no uncertainty as to the conduct it describes. It is commercialized vice, immoralities having a mercenary purpose, and this is confirmed by other circumstances.
The author of the bill was Mr. Mann, and in reporting it from the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign commerce he declared for the Committee that it was not
"The White Slave Trade. A material portion of the legislation suggested and proposed is necessary to meet conditions which have arisen within the past few years. The legislation is needed to put a stop to a villainous interstate and international traffic in women and girls. The Legislation is not needed or intended as an aid to the States in the exercise of their police powers in the suppression or regulation of immorality in general. It does not attempt to regulate the practice of voluntary prostitution, but aims solely to prevent panderers and procurers from compelling thousands of women and girls against their will and desire to enter and continue in a life of prostitution." House Report No. 47, 61st. Cong., 2d sess., pp. 9, 10.
In other words, it is vice as a business at which the law is directed, using interstate commerce as a facility to procure or distribute its victims.
In 1912 the sense of the Department of Justice was taken of the act in a case where a woman of 24 years went from Illinois, where she lived, to Minnesota at the solicitation and expense of a man. She was there met by him and engaged with him in immoral practices like those for which petitioners were convicted. The district attorney forwarded her statement to the Attorney General, with the comment that the element of traffic was absent from the
Of course, neither the declarations of the report of the Committee on Interstate Commerce of the House nor the opinion of the Attorney General are conclusive of the meaning of the law, but they are highly persuasive. The opinion was by one skilled in the rules and methods employed in the interpretation or construction of laws, and informed besides of the conditions to which the act was addressed. The report was by the committee charged with the duty of investigating the necessity for the act and to inform the House of the results of that investigation, both of evil and remedy. The report of the committee has, therefore, a higher quality than debates on the floor of the House. The representations of the latter may indeed be ascribed to the exaggerations of advocacy or opposition. The report of a committee is the execution of a duty and has the sanction of duty. There is a presumption, therefore, that the measure it recommends has the purpose it declares and will accomplish it as declared.
It will be observed that the language of the statute is very comprehensive, fully as much so as the language of the act under review, having no limitation whatever from the context; and the Circuit Court, in submission to what the court considered its imperative quality, rendered judgment against the Church. This court reversed the judgment, and, in an elaborate opinion by Mr. Justice Brewer, declared that "It is a familiar rule, that a thing may be within the latter of the statute and yet not within the statute, because not within its spirit, nor within the intention of its makers." And the learned Justice further said: "This has been often asserted, and the reports are full of cases illustrating its application."
It is hardly necessary to say that the application of the rule does not depend upon the objects of the legislation, to be applied or not applied as it may exclude or include good things or bad things. Its principle is the simple one that the words of a statute will be extended or restricted to execute its purpose.
The rule that these cases illustrate is a valuable one and in varying degrees has daily practice. It not only rescues legislation from absurdity (so far the opinion of the court admits its application), but it often rescues it from invalidity, a useful result in our dual form of governments and conflicting jurisdictions. It is the dictate of common sense. Language, even when most masterfully used, may miss sufficiency and give room for dispute. Is it a wonder therefore, that when used in the haste of legislation, in view of conditions perhaps only partly seen or not seen at all, the consequences, it may be, beyond present foresight, it often becomes necessary to apply the rule? And it is a rule of prudence and highest sense. It rescues from crudities, excesses and deficiencies, making legislation adequate to its special purpose, rendering unnecessary repeated qualifications and leaving the simple and best exposition of a law the mischief it was intended to redress. Nor is this judicial legislation. It is seeking and enforcing the true sense of a law notwithstanding its imperfection or generality of expression.
There is much in the present case to tempt to a violation of the rule. Any measure that protects the purity of
There is danger in extending a statute beyond its purpose, even if justified by a strict adherence to its words. The purpose is studied, all effects measured, not left at random — one evil practice prevented, opportunity given to another. The present case warns against ascribing such improvidence to the statute under review. Blackmailers of both sexes have arisen, using the terrors of the construction now sanctioned by this court as a help — indeed, the means — for their brigandage. The result is grave and should give us pause. It certainly will not be denied that legal authority justifies the rejection of a construction which leads to mischievous consequences, if the statute be susceptible of another construction.
United States v. Bitty, 208 U.S. 393, is not in opposition. The statute passed upon was a prohibition against the importation of alien women or girls, a statute, therefore, of broader purpose than the one under review. Besides, the statute finally passed upon was an amendment to a prior statute and the words construed were an addition to the
For these reasons I dissent from the opinion and judgment of the court, expressing no opinion of the other propositions in the cases.
I am authorized to say that the CHIEF JUSTICE and MR. JUSTICE CLARKE concur in this dissent.
"Sec. 2. That any person who shall knowingly transport or cause to be transported, or aid or assist in obtaining transportation for, or in transporting, in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or in the District of Columbia, any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose, or with the intent and purpose to induce, entice, or compel such woman or girl to become a prostitute or to give herself up to debauchery, or to engage in any other immoral practice; or who shall knowingly procure or obtain, or cause to be procured or obtained, or aid or assist in procuring or obtaining, any ticket or tickets, or any form of transportation or evidence of the right thereto, to be used by any woman or girl in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or the District of Columbia, in going to any place for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose, or with the intent or purpose on the part of such person to induce, entice, or compel her to give herself up to the practice of prostitution, or to give herself up to debauchery, or any other immoral practice, whereby any such woman or girl shall be transported in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or the District of Columbia, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment of not more than five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
"Sec. 3. That any person who shall knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce, or cause to be persuaded, induced, enticed, or coerced, or aid or assist in persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing any woman or girl to go from one place to another in interstate or foreign commerce, or in any Territory or the District of Columbia, for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose, or with the intent and purpose on the part of such person that such woman or girl shall engage in the practice of prostitution or debauchery, or any other immoral practice, whether with or without her consent, and who shall thereby knowingly cause or aid or assist in causing such woman or girl to go and to be carried or transported as a passenger upon the line or route of any common carrier or carriers in interstate or foreign commerce, or any Territory or the District of Columbia, shall be deemed guilty of a felony and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.
"Sec. 4. That any person who shall knowingly persuade, induce, entice, or coerce any woman or girl under the age of eighteen years, from any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, to any other State or Territory or the District of Columbia, with the purpose and intent to induce or coerce her, or that she shall be induced or coerced to engage in prostitution or debauchery, or any other immoral practice, and shall in furtherance of such purpose knowingly induce or cause her to go and to be carried or transported as a passenger in interstate commerce upon the line or route of any common carrier or carriers, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars, or by imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court."