United States v. Smull,
236 U.S. 405 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Smull, 236 U.S. 405 (1915)

United States v. Smull

No. 598

Argued January 7, 1915

Decided February 23, 1915

236 U.S. 405


A charge of crime against the United States must have clear legislative basis.

A charge of perjury may be based on § 125, Criminal Code, for knowingly swearing falsely to an affidavit required either expressly by Act of Congress or by an authorized regulation of the Land Department.

Page 236 U. S. 406

When, by valid regulation, the Land Department requires an affidavit to be made before an otherwise competent officer, that officer is authorized to administer the oath under §, 125, Criminal Code, and the false swearing is made a crime and the penalty is fixed therefor by Congress, and not by the Department.

In regard to affidavits required by the Land Department, § 125, Criminal Code, must be read in the light of § 2246, Rev.Stat., authorizing and making it the duty of the specified officer of the Land Department to administer oaths.

The departmental rule requiring an applicant for homestead entry under § 2289, Rev.Stat., to state under oath whether or not he has made a former entry under the homestead law is one addressed to the enforcement of the laws, the administration whereof is confided to the Land Department, and is not inconsistent with any specific statutory provision, and the oath required is therefore one administered by authority of law as provided in § 125, Criminal Code.

The facts, which involve the construction and application of Rev.Stat., § 2289, and the validity of an indictment for perjury for violation thereof, are stated in the opinion.

Page 236 U. S. 408

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