1. The court may affirm a decree dismissing a suit without
putting the parties to the expense of printing the full record when
the facts stated and admitted in the motion papers make it plain
that the suit cannot be maintained. P. 262 U. S.
2. The law of Porto Rico providing for summary foreclosure of
mortgages without allowing other defenses than payment, but leaving
the mortgagor plenary opportunity to assert other objections by
separate suit, clearly does not deprive him of property without due
process of law. Id.
Appeal from a decree of the District Court of the United States
for Porto Rico, dismissing, for want of jurisdiction, a bill to
restrain summary foreclosure proceedings.
Page 262 U. S. 171
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is a bill in equity filed in the district court to restrain
proceedings under the mortgage law of Porto Rico to foreclose a
mortgage. That law gives a summary suit in which, speaking broadly,
no defense is open except payment, Mortgage Law Regulations, Art.
175, and it is contended that this deprives the plaintiffs,
appellants, of their property without due process of law. The
statutes give a separate action to annul the mortgage in which any
defense to it may be set up, and also provided for a cautionary
notice, Mortgage Law, Art. 42; Mortgage Law Regulations, Art. 91,
which the Supreme Court of Porto Rico regards as a sufficient
substitute for an injunction. American Trading Co. v.
18 P.R. 268. See Romeu v. Todd,
206 U. S. 358
bill was dismissed by the district court for want of jurisdiction.
The appellees move that the decree be affirmed.
The facts stated and admitted in the motion papers make it so
plain that the bill cannot be maintained that we shall affirm the
decree below without putting the parties to the expense of printing
the full record. Apart from other matters urged by the appellees,
the constitutional objection is simply another form of the
objection to the separation between possessory and petitory suits
familiar to countries that inherit Roman law, and not wholly
unfamiliar in our own. The United States, the states, and equally
Porto Rico, may exclude all claims of ultimate right from
possessory actions, consistently with due process of law. Grant
Timber & Manufacturing Co. v. Gray, 236 U.
; Central Union Trust Co. v. Garvan,
254 U. S. 554
Before these decisions, it had been strongly intimated by Chief
Justice White that the foreclosure by summary process allowed by
the law of Porto Rico was valid, Torres v. Lothrop,
231 U. S. 171
231 U. S. 177
and a decision to the same effect was rendered by
Page 262 U. S. 172
the Supreme Court of the Island. Gimenez v. Brenes,
P.R. 124. In view of these decisions, we are of opinion that the
constitutional question raised was only colorable, and that the
decree dismissing the bill was right.