Ross v. Oregon,
227 U.S. 150 (1913)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ross v. Oregon, 227 U.S. 150 (1913)

Ross v. Oregon

No. 75

Argued December 6, 1912

Decided January 27, 1913

227 U.S. 150


The prohibition in § 10 of Article I of the Constitution against ex post facto laws is a restraint upon the legislative power of the states and concerns the making of laws, and not their construction by the courts. While that prohibition is directed against legislative acts, and reaches every form in which the legislative power acts, and while a judicial decision is the act of an instrumentality of the state, if the purpose of that decision is not to prescribe a new law for the future, but only to apply laws in force at the time to completed transactions, the ruling is a judicial, and not a legislative, act, and no federal right or

Page 227 U. S. 151

question is involved under the ex post facto provision of the Constitution.

The purpose of a judicial inquiry is to enforce laws as they are at present; legislation looks to the future and changes existing conditions by making new laws to be applicable hereafter. Prentis v. Atlantic Coast Line, 211 U. S. 210, 211 U. S. 226.

Whether an amendment to the state constitution requiring prosecution for crime to be based on indictment applies to pending cases is a question of local law, and the decision of the state court is not reviewable here, and the decision of that court that such an amendment did not repeal the statute under which a prosecution based on an information already instituted does not deprive plaintiff in error of his liberty without due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution, and no federal question is involved giving this Court jurisdiction to review the judgment of conviction.

Where the record presents no federal question, the writ of error must be dismissed, and this Court cannot discus the merits of the questions presented and determined in the state court.

Writ of error to review 55 Or. 450 dismissed.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court to review judgments of the state courts under § 709, Rev.Stat., and what constitutes an ex post facto law, are stated in the opinion.

Page 227 U. S. 155

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