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Opinion of the Court.

309 U.S.

the State at this bar, that the court used the word "include" as defining the entire class of persons to whom the statute applies and not as describing merely a portion of a larger class. In advance of a decision by the state court applying the statute to persons outside that definition, we should not adopt a construction of the provision which might render it of doubtful validity. Stephenson v. Binford, 287 U. S. 251, 277.

This construction of the statute destroys the contention that it is too vague and indefinite to constitute valid legislation. There must be proof of a "habitual course of misconduct in sexual matters" on the part of the persons against whom a proceeding under the statute is directed, which has shown "an utter lack of power to control their sexual impulses,” and hence that they "are likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury, loss, pain or other evil on the objects of their uncontrolled and uncontrollable desire.” These underlying conditions, calling for evidence of past conduct pointing to probable consequences are as susceptible of proof as many of the criteria constantly applied in prosecutions for crime. Nash v. United States, 229 U. S. 373, 377; Fox v. Washington, 236 U. S. 273, 277, 278; Omaechevarria v. Idaho, 246 U. S. 343, 348; United States v. Wurzbach, 280 U.S. 396, 399. Appellant's criticisms are drawn from his interpretation of the statute and find no warrant in the statute as the state court has construed it.

Equally unavailing is the contention that the statute denies appellant the equal protection of the laws. The argument proceeds on the view that the statute has selected a group which is a part of a larger class. The question, however, is whether the legislature could constitutionally make a class of the group it did select. That is, whether there is any rational basis for such a selection. We see no reason for doubt upon this point. Whether the legislature could have gone farther is not


Opinion of the Court.

the question. The class it did select is identified by the state court in terms which clearly show that the persons within that class constitute a dangerous element in the community which the legislature in its discretion could put under appropriate control. As we have often said, the legislature is free to recognize degrees of harm, and it may confine its restrictions to those classes of cases where the need is deemed to be clearest. If the law "presumably hits the evil where it is most felt, it is not to be overthrown because there are other instances to which it might have been applied.” Lindsley v. Natural Carbonic Gas Co., 220 U.S. 61, 78–79; Miller v. Wilson, 236 U. S. 373, 384; Semler v. Dental Examiners, 294 U. S. 608, 610, 611; West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U. S. 379, 400.

There remains the question whether, apart from definition and classification, the procedure authorized by the statute adequately safeguards the fundamental rights embraced in the conception of due process. In this relation it is important to note that appellant has challenged the proceeding in limine by seeking to prevent the probate judge from entertaining it. To support such a challenge, the statute in its procedural aspect must be found to be invalid on its face and not by reason of some particular application inconsistent with due process. In that light the argument on this branch of the case also fails.

As we have seen, the facts must first be submitted to the county attorney who must be satisfied that good cause exists. He then draws a petition which must be "executed by a person having knowledge of the facts.” The probate judge must set the matter for hearing and for examination of the person proceeded against. Provision is made for his representation by counsel and for compelling the production of witnesses in his behalf. The court must appoint two licensed doctors of medicine to assist in the

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examination. The argument that these doctors may not be sufficiently expert in this type of cases merely invites conjecture. There is no reason to doubt that qualified medical men are usually available. Laws as to proceedings where persons are alleged to be insane are made applicable. Appellant says that the patient cannot be released on bail. The State contests this, insisting that he may be so released pending hearing or on appeal, pointing to Mason's Minnesota Statutes, 1938 Supplement, $ 8992–178. Appellant contends that if the court finds the patient to be within the statute, he must be committed “for the rest of his life to an asylum for the dangerously insane.” Mason's Minn. Stat., 1938 Supp., § 8992–176. The State also contests this conclusion, maintaining that the commitment is without term and subject to the right of the patient, or any one interested in him, to petition the committing court for release at any time. Mason's Minn. Stat., 1938 Supp., § 8992–143; Laws of 1935, Chap. 72, § 143; as amended by Laws of 1939, Chap. 270, § 8. The statute gives a right of appeal from the finding of the probate judge upon compliance with certain specified provisions of the Minnesota laws. Appellant contends that this excludes other provisions of laws relating to appeals in insanity cases. Again, appellant's position is contested by the State upon the ground that there is no express limitation or exclusion in the language of the statute and that other provisions governing appellate procedure apply. These various procedural questions, and others suggested by appellant, do not appear to have been passed upon by the state court.

We fully recognize the danger of a deprivation of due process in proceedings dealing with persons charged with insanity or, as here, with a psychopathic personality as defined in the statute, and the special importance of maintaining the basic interests of liberty in a class of


Statement of the Case.

cases where the law though "fair on its face and impartial in appearance” may be open to serious abuses in administration and courts may be imposed upon if the substantial rights of the persons charged are not adequately safeguarded at every stage of the proceedings. But we have no occasion to consider such abuses here, for none have occurred. The applicable statutes are not patently defective in any vital respect and we should not assume, in advance of a decision by the state court, that they should be construed so as to deprive appellant of the due process to which he is entitled under the Federal Constitution. Plymouth Coal Co. v. Pennsylvania, 232 U. S. 531, 546; Utah Power & Light Co. v. Pfost, 286 U. S. 165, 186, 187; Stephenson v. Binford, supra. On the contrary, we must assume that the Minnesota courts will protect appellant in every constitutional right he possesses. His procedural objections are premature. The judgment is






No. 419. Argued February 7, 8, 1940.-Decided February 26, 1940.

A conclusion of fact by the Board of Tax Appeals supported by

substantial evidence binds the Circuit Court of Appeals. P. 279. 105 F. 2d 552, reversed.

CERTIORARI, 308 U. S. 543, to review a judgment reversing a decision of the Board of Tax Appeals sustaining a ruling of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue,

Opinion of the Court.

309 U.S.

Mr. John Philip Wenchel, with whom. Solicitor General Jackson, Assistant Attorney General Clark, and Messrs. Sewall Key and Harry Marselli were on the brief, for petitioner.

Mr. Robert T. McCracken, with whom Messrs. Leo W. White, R. M. O'Hara, and W. H. Gillespie were on the brief, for respondent.

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent Kehoe, in 1926, made an income tax return for 1925 and paid the amount computed thereon. In 1927, after inquiry concerning his affairs, the Commissioner assessed and collected an additional sum. Respondent waived appeal to the Board of Tax Appeals and became party to a closing agreement under $ 1106 (b) Revenue Act 1926," approved by the Secretary of the Treasury January 27, 1928.

In 1932 the Commissioner undertook to set aside this agreement and made a deficiency assessment of more than Two Hundred Thousand Dollars, also a fifty per cent penalty. Respondent appealed to the Board of Tax Appeals where he maintained there was no adequate proof

* February 26, 1926, c. 27, 44 Stat. 9, 113—

"Sec. 1106 (b). If after a determination and assessment in any case the taxpayer has paid in whole any tax or penalty, or accepted any abatement, credit, or refund based on such determination and assessment, and an agreement is made in writing between the taxpayer and the Commissioner, with the approval of the Secretary, that such determination and assessment shall be final and conclusive, then (except upon a showing of fraud or malfeasance or misrepresentation of fact materially affecting the determination or assessment thus made) (1) the case shall not be reopened or the determination and assessment modified by any officer, employee, or agent of the United States, and (2) no suit, action, or proceeding to annul, modify, or set aside such determination or assessment shall be entertained by any court of the United States."

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