|Duncan v. Louisiana
[ White ]
[ Black ]
[ Harlan ]
Duncan v. Louisiana
APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK, with whom MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS joins, concurring.
The Court today holds that the right to trial by jury guaranteed defendants in criminal cases in federal courts by Art. III of the United States Constitution and by the Sixth Amendment is also guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to defendants tried in state courts. With [p163] this holding I agree for reasons given by the Court. I also agree because of reasons given in my dissent in Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46, 68. In that dissent, at 90, I took the position, contrary to the holding in 332 U.S. 46, 68. In that dissent, at 90, I took the position, contrary to the holding in Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, that the Fourteenth Amendment made all of the provisions of the Bill of Rights applicable to the States. This Court, in 211 U.S. 78, that the Fourteenth Amendment made all of the provisions of the Bill of Rights applicable to the States. This Court, in Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319, 323, decided in 1937, although saying "[t]here is no such general rule," went on to add that the Fourteenth Amendment may make it unlawful for a State to abridge by its statutes the
freedom of speech which the First Amendment safeguards against encroachment by the Congress. . . or the like freedom of the press . . . or the free exercise of religion . . . or the right of peaceable assembly . . . or the right of one accused of crime to the benefit of counsel. . . . In these and other situations, immunities that are valid as against the federal government by force of the specific pledges of particular amendments have been found to be implicit in the concept of ordered liberty, and thus, through the Fourteenth Amendment, become valid as against the states.
Id. at 324-325. And the Palko opinion went on to explain, 302 U.S. at 326, that certain Bill of Rights provisions were made applicable to the States by bringing them "within the Fourteenth Amendment by a process of absorption." Thus, Twining v. New Jersey, supra, refused to hold that any one of the Bill of Rights' provisions was made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, but Palko, which must be read as overruling Twining on this point, concluded that the Bill of Rights Amendments that are "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" are "absorbed" by the Fourteenth as protections against [p164] state invasion. In this situation, I said in Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. at 89, that, while "I would . . . extend to all the people of the nation the complete protection of the Bill of Rights," that,
[i]f the choice must be between the selective process of the Palko decision applying some of the Bill of Rights to the States, or the Twining rule applying none of them, I would choose the Palko selective process.
See Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335. And I am very happy to support this selective process through which our Court has, since the Adamson case, held most of the specific Bill of Rights protections applicable to the States to the same extent they are applicable to the Federal Government. Among these are the right to trial by jury decided today, the right against compelled self-incrimination, the right to counsel, the right to compulsory process for witnesses, the right to confront witnesses, the right to a speedy and public trial, and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
All of these holdings making Bill of Rights provisions applicable as such to the States mark, of course, a departure from the Twining doctrine holding that none of those provisions were enforceable as such against the States. The dissent in this case, however, makes a spirited and forceful defense of that now discredited doctrine. I do not believe that it is necessary for me to repeat the historical and logical reasons for my challenge to the Twining holding contained in my Adamson dissent and Appendix to it. What I wrote there in 1947 was the product of years of study and research. My appraisal of the legislative history followed 10 years of legislative experience as a Senator of the United States, not a bad way, I suspect, to learn the value of what is said in legislative debates, committee discussions, committee reports, and various other steps taken in the course of passage of bills, resolutions, [p165] and proposed constitutional amendments. My Brother HARLAN's objections to my Adamson dissent history, like that of most of the objectors, relies most heavily on a criticism written by Professor Charles Fairman and published in the Stanford Law Review. 2 Stan.L.Rev. 5 (1949). I have read and studied this article extensively, including the historical references, but am compelled to add that, in my view, it has completely failed to refute the inferences and arguments that I suggested in my Adamson dissent . Professor Fairman's "history" relies very heavily on what was not said in the state legislatures that passed on the Fourteenth Amendment. Instead of relying on this kind of negative pregnant, my legislative experience has convinced me that it is far wiser to rely on what was said, and, most importantly, said by the men who actually sponsored the Amendment in the Congress. I know from my years in the United States Senate that it is to men like Congressman Bingham, who steered the Amendment through the House, and Senator Howard, who introduced it in the Senate, that members of Congress look when they seek the real meaning of what is being offered. And they vote for or against a bill based on what the sponsors of that bill and those who oppose it tell them it means. The historical appendix to my Adamson dissent leaves no doubt in my mind that both its sponsors and those who opposed it believed the Fourteenth Amendment made the first eight Amendments of the Constitution (the Bill of Rights) applicable to the States.
In addition to the adoption of Professor Fairman's "history," the dissent states that
the great words of the four clauses of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment would have been an exceedingly peculiar way to say that "The rights heretofore guaranteed against federal intrusion by the first eight Amendments are henceforth guaranteed against state intrusion as [p166] well."
Dissenting opinion, n. 9. In response to this, I can say only that the words "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" seem to me an eminently reasonable way of expressing the idea that, henceforth, the Bill of Rights shall apply to the States. [n1] What more precious "privilege" of American citizenship could there be than that privilege to claim the protections of our great Bill of Rights? I suggest that any reading of "privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States" which excludes the Bill of Rights' safeguards renders the words of this section of the Fourteenth Amendment meaningless. Senator Howard, who introduced the Fourteenth Amendment for passage in the Senate, certainly read the words this way. Although I have cited his speech at length in my Adamson dissent appendix, I believe it would be worthwhile to reproduce a part of it here.
Such is the character of the privileges and immunities spoken of in the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution [the Senator had just read from the old opinion of Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed.Cas. 546 (No. 3,230) (E. D.Pa. 1825)]. To these privileges and immunities, whatever they may be -- for they are not and cannot be fully defined in their entire extent and precise nature to these should be added the personal rights guarantied and secured by the first eight amendments of the Constitution; such as the freedom of speech and of the press; the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances, a right appertaining [p167] to each and all the people; the right to keep and to bear arms; the right to be exempted from the quartering of soldiers in a house without the consent of the owner; the right to be exempt from unreasonable searches and seizures, and from any search or seizure except by virtue of a warrant issued upon a formal oath or affidavit; the right of an accused person to be informed of the nature of the accusation against him, and his right to be tried by an impartial jury of the vicinage, and also the right to be secure against excessive bail and against cruel and unusual punishments.
Now, sir, here is a mass of privileges, immunities, and rights, some of them secured by the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which I have recited, some by the first eight amendments of the Constitution, and it is a fact well worthy of attention that the course of decision of our courts and the present settled doctrine is, that all these immunities, privileges, rights, thus guarantied by the Constitution or recognized by it, are secured to the citizens solely as a citizen of the United States and as a party in their courts. They do not operate in the slightest degree as a restraint or prohibition upon State legislation. . . .
. . . The great object of the first section of this amendment is, therefore, to restrain the power of the States and compel them at all times to respect these great fundamental guarantees.
Cong.Globe, 39th Cong, 1st Sess., 2765-2766 (1866). From this I conclude, contrary to my Brother HARLAN, that, if anything, it is "exceedingly peculiar" to read the Fourteenth Amendment differently from the way I do.
While I do not wish at this time to discuss at length my disagreement with Brother HARLAN's forthright and frank restatement of the now discredited Twining doctrine, [n2] [p168] I do want to point out what appears to me to be the basic difference between us. His view, as was indeed the view of Twining, is that "due process is an evolving concept," and therefore that it entails a "gradual process of judicial inclusion and exclusion" to ascertain those "immutable principles . . . of free government which no member of the Union may disregard." Thus, the Due Process Clause is treated as prescribing no specific and clearly ascertainable constitutional command that judges must obey in interpreting the Constitution, but rather as leaving judges free to decide at any particular time whether a particular rule or judicial formulation embodies an "immutable principl[e] of free government" or is "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty," or whether certain conduct "shocks the judge's conscience" or runs counter to some other similar, undefined and undefinable standard. Thus, due process, according to my Brother HARLAN, is to be a phrase with no permanent meaning, but one which is found to shift from time to time in accordance with judges' predilections and understandings of what is best for the country. If due process means this, the Fourteenth Amendment, in my opinion, might as well have been written that
no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property except by laws that the judges of the United States Supreme Court shall find to be consistent with the immutable principles of free government.
It is impossible for me to believe that such unconfined power is given to judges in our Constitution that is a written one in order to limit governmental power.
Another tenet of the Twining doctrine as restated by my Brother HARLAN is that "due process of law requires only fundamental fairness." But the "fundamental [p169] fairness" test is one on a par with that of shocking the conscience of the Court. Each of such tests depends entirely on the particular judge's idea of ethics and morals, instead of requiring him to depend on the boundaries fixed by the written words of the Constitution. Nothing in the history of the phrase "due process of law" suggests that constitutional controls are to depend on any particular judge's sense of values. The origin of the Due Process Clause is Chapter 39 of Magna Carta, which declares that
No free man shall be taken, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land. [n3]
(Emphasis added.) As early as 1354, the words "due process of law" were used in an English statute interpreting Magna Carta, [n4] and, by the end of the 14th century, "due process of law" and "law of the land" were interchangeable. Thus, the origin of this clause was an attempt by those who wrote Magna Carta to do away with the so-called trials of that period where people were liable to sudden arrest and summary conviction in courts and by judicial commissions with no sure and definite procedural protections and under laws that might have been improvised to try their particular cases. Chapter 39 of Magna Carta was a guarantee that the government would take neither life, liberty, nor property without a trial in accord with the law of the land that already existed at the time the alleged offense was committed. This means that the Due Process Clause gives all Americans, whoever they are and wherever they happen to be, the right to be tried by independent and unprejudiced courts using established procedures and applying valid preexisting laws. There is not one word of legal history that justifies making the [p170] term "due process of law" mean a guarantee of a trial free from laws and conduct which the courts deem at the time to be "arbitrary," "unreasonable," "unfair," or "contrary to civilized standards." The due process of law standard for a trial is one in accordance with the Bill of Rights and laws passed pursuant to constitutional power, guaranteeing to all alike a trial under the general law of the land.
Finally I want to add that I am not bothered by the argument that applying the Bill of Rights to the States, "according to the same standards that protect those personal rights against federal encroachment," [n5] interferes with our concept of federalism in that it may prevent States from trying novel social and economic experiments. I have never believed that under the guise of federalism the States should be able to experiment with the protections afforded our citizens through the Bill of Rights. As Justice Goldberg said so wisely in his concurring opinion in Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400:
to deny to the States the power to impair a fundamental constitutional right is not to increase federal power, but, rather, to limit the power of both federal and state governments in favor of safeguarding the fundamental rights and liberties of the individual. In my view, this promotes, rather than undermines, the basic policy of avoiding excess concentration of power in government, federal or state, which underlies our concepts of federalism.
380 U.S. at 414. It seems to me totally inconsistent to advocate, on the one hand, the power of this Court to strike down any state law or practice which it finds "unreasonable" or "unfair" and, on the other hand, urge that the States be [p171] given maximum power to develop their own laws and procedures. Yet the due process approach of my Brothers HARLAN and FORTAS (see other concurring opinion, post, p. 211) does just that, since, in effect, it restricts the States to practices which a majority of this Court is willing to approve on a case-by-case basis. No one is more concerned than I that the States be allowed to use the full scope of their powers as their citizens see fit. And that is why I have continually fought against the expansion of this Court's authority over the States through the use of a broad, general interpretation of due process that permits judges to strike down state laws they do not like.
In closing, I want to emphasize that I believe as strongly as ever that the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to make the Bill of Rights applicable to the States. I have been willing to support the selective incorporation doctrine, however, as an alternative, although perhaps less historically supportable than complete incorporation. The selective incorporation process, if used properly, does limit the Supreme Court in the Fourteenth Amendment field to specific Bill of Rights' protections only and keeps judges from roaming at will in their own notions of what policies outside the Bill of Rights are desirable and what are not. And, most importantly for me, the selective incorporation process has the virtue of having already worked to make most of the Bill of Rights' protections applicable to the States.
1. My view has been and is that the Fourteenth Amendment, as a whole, makes the Bill of Rights applicable to the States. This would certainly include the language of the Privileges and Immunities Clause, as well as the Due Process Clause.
2. For a more thorough exposition of my views against this approach to the Due Process Clause, see my concurring opinion in Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165, 174.
3. See Murray's Lessee v. Hoboken Land and Improvement Co., 18 How. 272, 276.
4. 28 Edw. 3, c. 3 (1354)
5. See Malloy v. Hogan, 378 U.S. 1, 10; Pointer v. Texas, 380 U.S. 400, 406; Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 464.