In re Rapier
143 U.S. 110 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Rapier, 143 U.S. 110 (1892)

In re Rapier

Nos. 7-9, Original

Argued November 16-17, 1891

Decided February 1, 1892

143 U.S. 110

Syllabus

Section 3894 of the Revised Statutes, as amended by the Act of September 19, 1890, 26 Stat. 465, c. 908, which provides that

"No letter, postal card or circular concerning any lottery . . . and no list of the drawings at any lottery . . . and no lottery ticket or part thereof . . . shall be carried in the mail, or delivered at or through any post office, or branch thereof, or by any letter carrier,"

and that no newspaper "containing any advertisement of any lottery . . . shall be carried in the mail, or delivered by any postmaster or letter carrier," and that

"any person who shall knowingly deposit or cause to be deposited . . . anything to he conveyed or delivered by mail in violation of this section . . . shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year"

is a constitutional exercise of the power conferred upon Congress by Art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution, to establish post offices and post roads, and does not abridge "the freedom of speech or of the press," within the meaning of Amendment I to the Constitution.

Ex Parte Jackson,96 U. S. 727, affirmed to the points

(1) That the power vested in Congress to establish post offices and post roads embraces the regulation of the entire postal system of the country, and that under it Congress may designate what may be carried in the mail and what excluded.

Page 143 U. S. 111

(2) That in excluding various articles from the mails, the object of Congress is not to interfere with the freedom of the press or with any other rights of the people, but to refuse the facilities for the distribution of matter deemed injurious by Congress to the public morals.

(3) That the transportation in any other way of matter excluded from the mails is not forbidden.

These were three applications to this Court for leave to file petitions for writs of habeas corpus. Leave was granted, March 9, 1891, and the petitions were made returnable on the third Monday of the next April. They were duly returned, and were on the 27th of April assigned for argument at the present term. The prayer in each case was for a discharge from arrest for an alleged violation of the provisions of section 3894 of the Revised Statutes, as amended by the Act of September 19, 1890, 26 Stat. 465, c. 908, generally known as the Anti-lottery Act, which is printed in the margin. *

Page 143 U. S. 112

Rapier was arrested under an information in the District for the Southern District of Alabama.

Dupre was arrested under two indictments in the Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The charge against Rapier, and against Dupre in one indictment, was the mailing of a newspaper containing an advertisement of the Louisiana Lottery, and in the other indictment against Dupre was for the mailing of a letter concerning it.

As a cause for the issue of the writ, Rapier said in his application:

"Your petitioner avers that he is now in the custody of said marshal under or by color of the authority of the United States and in violation of the Constitution of the United States. Your petitioner is advised that the pretended statute under which he is being prosecuted and held is in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and that the said district court is without jurisdiction in the premises."

Dupre, in No. 8, averred that he was

"deprived of his liberty under and by color of the authority of the United States and of said court and in violation of the Constitution of the United States and of his rights as a citizen thereof, because he says that he is advised and therefore avers that the statute of the United States under which he is held and being prosecuted upon said indictment is unconstitutional, null, and void, and particularly obnoxious to and in violation of the First Amendment to said Constitution which forbids Congress' passing any law abridging the freedom of the press, and that therefore said circuit court is and was without jurisdiction in the premises, and he is deprived of his liberty without authority of law."

His petition in No. 9 contained the same averment.

Page 143 U. S. 132

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