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6 > Page 6 of Argument of J. Proctor Knott in re Varney Hatfield et al., on habeas corpus before the United States district court of Kentucky, February 28, 1888

6 confined in her jail after they had been brought within her jurisdiction by parties acting without her authority; and that, therefore, their detention under its writ is in violation of the provision of the Consti- tution to which I have just referred, and of the law enacted by Con gress to carry the same into effect. If this is not a fair statement of the argument for the prisoners on this point, there can be no argument about it. But admitting every syllable of the premises stated to be true, they utterly fail to warrant the conclusion claimed on the other side. In the first place it must be borne in mind, that there is a material difference between the action of a State and the act of any number of individuals, even thou 'gh they may be its own citizens. A State can act only through its legally authorized agencies,, whose power and duties are prescribed by law, and if any of the agencies thus consti- tuted transcend the limits of its presciIbed authority, his act becomes his own wrong, and upon no p)ril]ciplc of reason or la1w can be imputed to the State ast an entity. The whole argument may be ans ered, therefore, by a simple statement of the fact, that however flagitious the seizure of these parties in the State of \irginia may leave been, it was neither advised, authorized nor commanded by the State of Ken- tucky, but was effected by a party of unauthorize(l lpersons, each acting under his own individual wvil; and that the State of Kentucky did not pretend to act in the matter at alh until after the prisoners had been brought withiii her own jurisdiction, where they wevre seized and de- tained by her officers, in pursuance of her own laws. Nor can it make a particle of difference, sir,where their citizenship may have been. It is true, as stated by Mr. St. Clair, that inder the Constitution of the United States, the citizens of each State are entitled to all the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several States. iNobody ever denied that. But certainly it can not be claimed that a citizen of one State is entitled to an' greater imlnlunity in another State than that State guarantees to its own citizens, for it is a well-settled p)rinciple, un iversall - recognized unlner the law of nations, that every person whether citizen, denizen or alien who violates the .iaws of any State is amenable to pumnishmnent under those laws. It is immaterial therefore whether these pl)isoners were citizens of Kentucky or of West Viroinia, or were the subjects of a foreign government; once within reach of criminal process in this State, no matter how, whether through the regular process of extradition, or by, the act of