Henry v. Henkel, 235 U.S. 219 (1914)
U.S. Supreme CourtHenry v. Henkel, 235 U.S. 219 (1914)
Henry v. Henkel
Argued February 24, 25, 1914
Decided November 30, 1914
235 U.S. 219
No hard and fast rule has as yet been announced as to how far the Court will go in passing upon questions raised in habeas corpus proceedings. Barring exceptional cases, the general rule is that, on applications for habeas corpus, the hearing is confined to the single question of jurisdiction, and even that will not be decided in every case. The hearing on habeas corpus is not in the nature of a writ of error, nor is it intended as a substitute for the functions of the trial court.
This rule applies equally whether the petitioner is committed for trial within the district or held under warrant of removal to another state. Ex Parte Royall, 117 U. S. 241.
A citizen cannot be held for custody or removed for trial where there is no provision of common law or statute making an offense of the acts charged, as in such case the committing court would have no jurisdiction, as the prisoner would be in custody without warrant of law. Every act of Congress is presumptively valid, and a committing magistrate cannot properly treat as invalid a statutory declaration of what should constitute an offense except where the act is palpably void. Whether Congress has power to compel a witness in a congressional inquiry to make material and noncriminatory disclosures, and whether the district judge has jurisdiction to commit on the ground that the statute punishing the witness for refusal to disclose is unconstitutional are questions for the determination of the trial court, and not on a proceeding in habeas corpus.
207 F. 805 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of courts on habeas corpus proceedings and to what extent the court will pass upon questions of jurisdiction and the merits of the case before the trial, are stated in the opinion.