By indictment found in the District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania, it was charged that appellee, a citizen of the United States, murdered another citizen of the United States upon the S.S. "Padnsay" an American vessel,
The District Court, following its earlier decision in United States ex rel. Maro v. Mathues, 21 F.2d 533, affirmed, 27 F.2d 518, sustained a demurrer to the indictment and discharged the prisoner on the ground that the court was without jurisdiction to try the offense charged. The case comes here by direct appeal under the Act of March 2, 1907, c. 2564, 34 Stat. 1264, 18 U.S.C. § 682 and § 238 of the Judicial Code, as amended by Act of February 13, 1925, 28 U.S.C. § 345, the court below certifying that its decision was founded upon its construction of § 272 of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. § 451.
Sections 273 and 275 of the Criminal Code, 18 U.S.C. §§ 452, 454, define murder and fix its punishment. Section 272,
Two questions are presented on this appeal, first, whether the extension of the judicial power of the federal government "to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction," by Art. III, § 2 of the Constitution confers on Congress power to define and punish offenses perpetrated by a citizen of the United States on board one of its merchant vessels lying in navigable waters within the territorial limits of another sovereignty; and second, whether Congress has exercised that power by the enactment of § 272 of the Criminal Code under which the indictment was found.
The court below thought, as appellee argues, that as § 8 of Art. I of the Constitution specifically granted to Congress the power "to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations," and "to make rules concerning captures on land and water," that provision must be regarded as a limitation on the general provision of § 2 of Art. III, that the judicial power shall extend "to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction"; that as the specific
Before the adoption of the Constitution, jurisdiction in admiralty and maritime cases was distributed between the Confederation and the individual States. Article IX of the Articles of Confederation provided that "the United States, in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power . . . of establishing rules for deciding in all cases what captures on land or water shall be legal, . . . appointing courts for the trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures . . ." So much of the general admiralty and maritime jurisdiction as was not included in this grant of power remained with the States. The powers thus granted were in substance the same as those later conferred on the national government by Article I, § 8 of the Federal Constitution. This section was adopted to carry out a resolution of the Convention "that the national legislature ought to possess the legislative rights vested in Congress by the Confederation." Its primary purpose and effect were to transfer to the newly organized government the powers in admiralty matters previously vested in the Confederation.
This section has been consistently interpreted as adopting for the United States the system of admiralty and maritime law, as it had been developed in the admiralty courts of England and the Colonies, and, by implication, conferring on Congress the power, subject to well recognized limitations not here material,
In view of the history of the two clauses and the manner of their adoption, the grant of power to define and punish piracies and felonies on the high seas cannot be deemed to be a limitation on the powers, either legislative or judicial, conferred on the national government by Article III, § 2. The two clauses are the result of separate steps independently taken in the Convention, by which the jurisdiction in admiralty, previously divided between the Confederation and the States, was transferred to the national government. It would be a surprising result, and one plainly not anticipated by the framers or justified by principles which ought to govern the interpretation of a constitution devoted to the redistribution of governmental powers, if part of them were lost in the process of transfer. To construe the one clause as limiting rather than supplementing the other would be to ignore their history, and without effecting any discernible purpose of their enactment, to deny to both the states and the national government powers which were common attributes of sovereignty before the adoption of the Constitution. The result would be to deny to both the power to define and punish crimes of less gravity than felonies committed on vessels of the United States while on the
As we cannot say that the specific grant of power to define and punish felonies on the high seas operated to curtail the legislative or judicial power conferred by Art. III, § 2, we come to the question principally argued, whether the jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime cases, which it gave, extends to the punishment of crimes committed on vessels of the United States while in foreign waters. As was pointed out by Mr. Justice Story, in the course of an elaborate review of the history of admiralty jurisdiction, in DeLovio v. Boit, 7 Fed. Cas. 418, 438, admiralty "from the highest antiquity has exercised a very extensive criminal jurisdiction and punished offenses by fine and imprisonment."
The criminal jurisdiction of the United States is wholly statutory, see United States v. Hudson, 7 Cranch 32, but it has never been doubted that the grant of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction to the federal government includes the legislative power to define and punish crimes committed upon vessels lying in navigable waters of the United States. From the very organization of the government, and without intermission, Congress has also asserted the power, analogous to that exercised by English courts of admiralty, to punish crimes committed on vessels of the United States while on the high seas or on navigable waters not within the territorial jurisdiction of
The Act of March 3, 1825, c. 65, § 4, 4 Stat. 115, provided for the punishment of any person committing murder "upon the high seas or in any arm of the sea or in any river, haven, creek, basin or bay, within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular state," and § 22 provided for the punishment of assault with a dangerous
As the offense charged here appears to have been committed on an American vessel while discharging cargo in port, the jurisdiction is not affected by the fact that she
It is true that the criminal jurisdiction of the United States is in general based on the territorial principle, and criminal statutes of the United States are not by implication given an extra-territorial effect. United States v. Bowman, 260 U.S. 94, 98; compare Blackmer v. United States, 284 U.S. 421. But that principle has never been thought to be applicable to a merchant vessel which, for purposes of the jurisdiction of the courts of the sovereignty whose flag it flies to punish crimes committed upon it, is deemed to be a part of the territory of that sovereignty, and not to lose that character when in navigable
In view of the wide recognition of this principle of extra-territorial jurisdiction over crimes committed on merchant vessels and its explicit adoption in United States v. Rodgers, supra, we cannot say that the language of the present statute punishing offenses on United States vessels out of the jurisdiction of a State, "when committed within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States," was not intended to give effect to it. If the meaning of the statute were doubtful, the doubt would be resolved by the report on these sections by the Special Joint Committee on the Revision of the Laws, 60th Congress, 1st Sess., Rep. 10, part, 1, p. 10, in which it was pointed out that the jurisdiction extends to vessels of the United States when on navigable waters within the limits of a foreign state, and "all cases arising on board such vessels while on any such waters, are clearly cases within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States."
A related but different question, not presented here, may arise when jurisdiction over an offense committed on a foreign vessel is asserted by the sovereignty in whose waters it was lying at the time of its commission, since for some purposes the jurisdiction may be regarded as concurrent, in that the courts of either sovereignty may try the offense.
"And so by comity it came to be generally understood among civilized nations that all matters of discipline and all things done on board which affected only the vessel or those belonging to her, and did not involve the peace or dignity of the country, or the tranquillity of the port, should be left by the local government to be dealt with by the authorities of the nation to which the vessel belonged as the laws of that nation or the interests of its commerce should require. But if crimes are committed on board of a character to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the country to which the vessel has been brought, the offenders have never by comity or usage been entitled to any exemption from the operation of the local laws for their punishment, if the local tribunals see fit to assert their authority."
"First: When committed upon the high seas, or on any other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular State, or when committed within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular State on board any vessel belonging in whole or in part to the United States or any citizen thereof, or to any corporation created by or under the laws of the United States, or of any State, Territory, or District thereof. . . ."
Daniel Webster, Chairman of the House Committee having in charge the bill which became the Act of 1825, pointed out in introducing it that the offenses for which it provided punishment had actually occurred upon our ships, while lying in the harbors of foreign nations and had gone unpunished for want of such legislation. Gall & Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress, Vol. 1, cols. 154, 158.