Published on:

Court Discusses Fourth Article of Constitution


This is an action of trespass brought by a complainant man against another man and others for breaking and entering the complainant’s house. The opponents justify upon the ground that large numbers of men were assembled in different parts of the state for the purpose of overthrowing the government by military force and were actually levying war upon the state. Moreover, New York Drug Crime Lawyer said that in order to defend itself from the said rebellion, the state was declared by competent authority to be under martial law. In that event the complainant was engaged in the rebellion and that the opponents being in the military service, by command of their superior officer, broke and entered the house and searched the rooms of the complainant, who was supposed to be there concealed, in order to arrest him, doing as little damage as possible. The complainant replied that the trespass was committed by the opponents with their own wrong. The parties then proceeded to trial.

The evidence offered by the complainant and the opponents stated at large in the record and the questions was decided by the circuit court. The evidence revealed that the opponents, in breaking into the complainant’s house and chasing to arrest him were acted under the authority of the government which was established and which is usually called the charter government.
The complainant contends that the charter government was displaced and ceased to have any lawful power, after the organization, of the government which he supported, and although that government never was able to exercise any authority in the state, nor to command obedience to its laws or to its officers, but he still insists that it was the lawful and established government, upon the ground that it was approved by a large majority of the male people of the state with the age of twenty-one and upwards, and also by a majority of those who were entitled to vote for general officers under the then existing laws of the state.

The circuit court rejected the said evidence and instructed the jury that the charter government and laws under which the opponents acted were, at the time the trespass is alleged to have been committed, in full force and effect as the form of government and paramount law of the state and constituted a justification of the acts of the opponents as set forth in their pleas.
Consequently, the questions presented were certainly very serious. A New York Drug Possession Lawyer said includes that if the court is authorized to enter upon the inquiry as proposed by the complainant and should be decided that the charter government had no legal existence during that period of time, if it had been annulled by the adoption of the opposing government then the laws passed by its legislature during that time were nullities, its taxes wrongfully collected, its salaries and compensation to its officers illegally paid, its public accounts improperly settled, and the judgments and sentences of its courts in civil and criminal cases null and void, and the officers who carried their decisions into operation are answerable as trespassers.

The point was already raised and decided by the other courts. A Nassau County Drug Possession Lawyer said the question relates, altogether, to the constitution and laws of that state and the well settled rule in the court is, that the courts of the United States adopt and follow the decisions of the state courts in questions which concern merely the constitution and laws of the state.

Based on records, the fourth section of the fourth article of the constitution provides that the United States shall guarantee to every state in the union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion and on the application of the legislature or of the executive against domestic violence.

Under the said article of the constitution, it rests with congress to decide what government is the established one in a state. A Queens Drug Possession Lawyer said for the United States to guarantee to each state a republican government, congress must necessarily decide what government is established in the state before it can determine whether it is republican or not. When the senators and representatives of a state are admitted into the councils of the union, the authority of the government under which they are appointed, as well as its republican character, is recognized by the proper constitutional authority. Its decision is binding on every other department of the government, and could not be questioned in a judicial tribunal. It is true that the contest in the case did not last long enough to bring the matter to the issue and as no senators or representatives were elected under the authority of the government. Yet the right to decide is placed there, and not in the courts.

The remaining question is whether the opponents, acting under military orders issued under the authority of the government, were justified in breaking and entering the complainant’s house. Based on records, in relation to the act of the legislature declaring martial law, it is not necessary in the case to inquire to what extent, nor under what circumstances may that power be exercised by a state. Unquestionably, a military government who established a permanent government would not be a republican government and it would be the duty of congress to overthrow it. But the law evidently considers no such government. It was intended merely for the crisis and to meet the threat in which the existing government was placed by the armed resistance to its authority. It was so understood and construed by the state authorities.

Furthermore it is unquestionable that a state may use its military power to put down an armed rebellion too strong to be controlled by the civil authority. In addition, the power is essential to the existence of every government, essential to the preservation of order and free institutions. The state itself must determine what degree of force the crisis demands. If the government deemed the armed opposition so alarming and so ramified throughout the state, as to require the use of its military force and the declaration of martial law, it has no ground upon which the court can question its authority. It was a state of war and the established government resorted to the rights and usages of war to maintain itself, and to overcome the unlawful opposition. In that state of things, the officers engaged in its military service might lawfully arrest anyone, who, from the information before them, had reasonable grounds that they believe was engaged in the rebellion and might order a house to be forcibly entered and searched, when there were reasonable grounds for supposing he might be there hidden.

The court stated that upon its review of the decision, it must be reversed and though it is very doubtful whether, in any other view, as by the general rights of war, the respondents can justify their conduct on the facts yet they should be allowed an opportunity for it, which can be granted on motion to revised the pleas in justification.

The court consequently decides that in consideration whereof, it is appropriately ordered and adjudged by the court, that the decision of the said circuit court with this reason be and the same is affirmed, with costs.

There are situations that even if we are not liable for a specific action, others tend to accused or put allegations against us. If you are faced with criminal actions, you can ask the proficiency of Suffolk County Criminal Lawyers. However, if you experience violence or assault, you can call Stephen Bilkis and Associate and ask for the assistance of the Suffolk County Domestic Violence Attorneys or Suffolk County Assault Lawyer.

Contact Information