United States v. Tynen
Annotate this Case
78 U.S. 88 (1870)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Tynen, 78 U.S. 11 Wall. 88 88 (1870)
United States v. Tynen
78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 88
1. When there are two acts of Congress on the same subject, and the latter act embraces all the provisions of the first, and also new provisions, and imposes different or additional penalties, the latter act operates, without any repealing clause, as a repeal of the first.
Accordingly, the thirteenth section of the act of Congress of 1813 "for the regulation of seamen on board the public and private vessels of the United States," which defined certain offenses against the naturalization laws, and prescribed their punishment, was held to be repealed by the act of Congress of 1870, "to amend the naturalization laws, and to punish crimes against the same, and for other purposes," which declared not only that the commission of the several acts mentioned in the thirteenth section of the law of 1813 should constitute a felony, but that also a great number of other acts of a fraudulent character, in connection with the naturalization of aliens, should constitute a similar offense, and made the infliction of a larger punishment for each offense discretionary with the court.
2. By the repeal of an act, without any reservation of its penalties, all criminal proceedings taken under it fall. There can be no legal conviction, nor any valid judgment pronounced upon conviction, unless the law creating the offense be at the time in existence.
Tynen, the defendant, was indicted under the thirteenth section of the Act of Congress of March 3, 1813, entitled "An act for the regulation of seamen on board the public and private vessels of the United States." The general object of the act, as expressed in its title, was carried out in the first eleven sections.
They declared that it should not be lawful, after the termination of the war then existing with Great Britain, to employ on board any public or private vessels of the United States any persons except citizens of the United States, or persons of color natives of the United States, and they required naturalized citizens thus employed to produce to the commanders of public vessels, or collectors of customs, as the case might be, a certified copy of the act by which they were naturalized, setting forth the naturalization and the date thereof. They also contained various clauses to give effect to these requirements, but at the same time declared that the provisions of the act should not preclude the employment as seamen of the subjects or citizens of any foreign nations which should not have prohibited, by treaty or special convention with the United States, the employment on board of her public or private vessels of native citizens of the United States who had not become citizens or subjects of such nation.
The twelfth section declared that no person living within the United States after the act took effect should be admitted to become a citizen who should not, for the continued term of five years next preceding his admission, have resided within the United States without being at any time absent therefrom.
Then followed the thirteenth section, upon which the indictment was found. That section declares it to be felony
"to falsely make, forge, or counterfeit, or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, or counterfeited, any certificate or evidence of citizenship referred to in the act, or to pass,
utter, or use as true any false, forged, or counterfeited certificate of citizenship, or to make sale or dispose of any certificate of citizenship to any person other than the person for whom it was originally issued, and to whom it may of right belong,"
and prescribes as punishment for the offense imprisonment for a period of not less than three nor more than five years OR a fine in a sum not less than $500 nor more than $1000, at the discretion of the court.
The indictment charged the defendant with the second of the offenses here designated; that he did willfully, falsely, and feloniously pass, utter, and use as true a false, forged, and counterfeited certificate of citizenship purporting to have been issued by one of the district courts of California, and setting forth with particularity a compliance with the several requirements of the law for the naturalization of aliens.
The indictment did not allege what use was made by the defendant of the forged certificate or any purpose for which it was uttered, and the defendant demurred. The several grounds of demurrer -- reduced to substantially one -- were that the indictment did not charge that the certificate or evidence of naturalization was forged to accomplish any purpose contemplated by the act of Congress under which the indictment was found, or for any other unlawful purpose, or with intent to injure the United States or any state, person, corporation, or association.
Upon this demurrer, the question arose whether the indictment charged any offense against the laws of the United States and whether it were necessary for the indictment to aver that the certificate or evidence of citizenship mentioned in it was produced to the commander of a public vessel of the United States or to a collector of the customs, as provided in previous sections of the act, when naturalized citizens were employed as seamen on board of the public or private vessels of the United States. Upon these questions the judges of the circuit court were opposed in opinion, and a certificate of division having been prepared accordingly, the case was sent to this Court. While pending here,
on the 14th July, 1870, Congress passed an act entitled "An act to amend the naturalization laws and to punish crimes against the same, and for other purposes," [Footnote 1] which embraced the whole subject of frauds against the naturalization laws. It declared all the acts mentioned in the thirteenth section of the law of 1813 felonies, but also declared a great number of other acts of a fraudulent character in connection with the naturalization of aliens felonies in addition, and made the infliction of a larger punishment for each offense discretionary with the court. Thus it authorized imprisonment AND fine, either or both, in the court's discretion, where the former act gave one OR the other only, and where the act of 1813 made the imprisonment not less than three years and the fine not less than $500, the new act made the imprisonment not less than one year and the fine not less than $300.
The matter now to be considered by this Court was what was the effect of this act of July 14, 1870, upon the provisions of the thirteenth section of the act of 1813, and if it worked a repeal of those provisions, what was the proper action to be taken by the court on the certificate of division?