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EX PARTE CHARLEY WEBB

decided: June 10, 1912.

EX PARTE CHARLEY WEBB, PETITIONER.


ON APPLICATION FOR HABEAS CORPUS AND CERTIORARI.

Author: Pitney

[ 225 U.S. Page 670]

 MR. JUSTICE PITNEY, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

The draftsman of the indictment evidently intended to charge the offense known as "introducing liquor into

[ 225 U.S. Page 671]

     the Indian country," made punishable by § 2139, Rev. Stat., as amended by act of July 23, 1892, 27 Stat. 260, c. 234, and by the "Act to prohibit the sale of intoxicating drinks to Indians," etc., approved January 30, 1897, 29 Stat. 506, c. 109.

The Circuit Court of Appeals in United States Express Company v. Friedman, 191 Fed. Rep. 673, dealt with the question whether that portion of Oklahoma formerly known as the Indian Territory ceased to be "Indian country" upon the admission of Oklahoma as a State, so that these acts were no longer applicable, and with the question whether the admission of Oklahoma as a State had the effect of repealing them so far as pertained to the introduction of liquors into the Territory. Petitioner's application to this court for a habeas corpus was intended to bring that decision under review, and the agreed statement of facts was designedly so framed as to show the grounds of his contention that the locus in quo is no longer "Indian country."

The Government, however, in resisting the application, relied for support of the jurisdiction of the District Court not only upon the acts just referred to, but also upon § 8 of "An Act to provide for the appointment of additional judges of the United States court in the Indian Territory, and for other purposes," approved March 1, 1895, 28 Stat. 693 c. 145.

The three enactments in question are set forth in chronological order in the margin.*fn1

[ 225 U.S. Page 672]

     At the time of the passage of the act of 1895 the Territory known as the Indian Territory was that which was

[ 225 U.S. Page 673]

     described by metes and bounds in the act of May 2, 1890, 26 Stat. 81, 93, c. 182, § 29. It included the lands of

[ 225 U.S. Page 674]

     the Cherokee Nation, and the city of Vinita, where the petitioner's alleged offense was committed. It is now, of course, a part of the State of Oklahoma.

It is not open to serious dispute that if the prohibition of the act of 1895 against "carrying into said Territory any such liquors or drinks" remains operative so far as pertains to the carrying of intoxicating liquors from another State into that part of Oklahoma which was the Indian Territory, the acts admittedly done by the petitioner constitute an offense thereunder, of which the United States District Court has jurisdiction. Whether the offense is sufficiently alleged in the indictment is another question, which, on familiar grounds, is not a proper subject-matter for inquiry on habeas corpus. Ex parte Parks, 93 U.S. 18; Ex parte Virginia, 100 U.S. 313, 339; Ex parte Carll, 106 U.S. 521; Ex parte Belt, 159 U.S. 95; Ornelas v. Ruiz, 161 U.S. 502. Recognizing this, counsel for the petitioner, upon the oral argument and in a supplemental brief, modified his original contentions, so as to deal with the act of 1895. As thus modified, the grounds upon which he relies are the following:

First, that the act of 1895, being a special act applicable to the Indian Territory, had the effect of superseding as to that Territory the existing general statute against the introduction and sale of intoxicating liquors in the Indian country.

Secondly, that the act of 1897, being amendatory of the general statute against the introduction and sale of intoxicating liquors in the Indian country, did not apply to the Indian Territory, because that Territory was covered by the special act of 1895.

[ 225 U.S. Page 675]

     Thirdly, that the jurisdiction cannot be rested upon the act of 1897, because the place where the alleged offense was committed was not Indian country within the meaning of that act, since there was no Indian title remaining in the town site of Vinita; the insistence being that where there is no Indian title, no inalienable land, and no alloted land held in trust, there can be no "Indian country."

Fourthly, that, whether the act of 1895 or the act of 1897 would otherwise be applicable, these acts were both repealed, as to that part of Oklahoma which was formerly the Indian Territory, by the force of the Oklahoma Enabling Act of June 16, 1906, c. 3335, 34 Stat. 267, under the authority of which the constitution of Oklahoma was adopted and a state government established, covering the territory previously known as Oklahoma and the Indian Territory; and pursuant to which certain statutes were afterwards enacted by the state legislature, viz., an act of March 24, 1908 (Laws of 1907-8, p. 594), known as the Billups Law, being §§ 4156-4209 of the Compiled Laws of Oklahoma of 1909, and an act passed March 11, 1911, Session Laws of Oklahoma, 1910-1911, c. 70, pp. 154-156.

The contentions of the Government, on the other hand, are:

First, that the act of 1895 prohibits the liquor traffic in the Indian Territory, regardless of any question concerning the term "Indian country," or concerning the title to particular lands, or the race or color of the persons affected.

Secondly, that the extinguishment of the Indian land title to the particular locus in quo did not remove it from the operation of § 2139, Rev. Stat., as amended by the acts of 1892 and 1897, because (among other reasons,) a contrary intent is manifested in the treaties and statutes under which that title was extinguished.

Thirdly, That neither by admitting Oklahoma to statehood, nor by anything in the Enabling Act, did Congress

[ 225 U.S. Page 676]

     renounce its control over the interstate liquor traffic in what had been the Indian Territory.

The question whether the act of 1895 was superseded by the act of 1897 was not much discussed in the argument. It is a question of nicety, having an importance extending beyond the exigencies of the present case. In the view we take of the other questions, however, we may simplify the discussion by assuming (without conceding) that petitioner's first two points are well taken, and that the act of 1897 did not apply to the Indian Territory because that Territory was covered by the special act of 1895. This at the same time renders it unnecessary for us to consider his third ...


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