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BURROUGHS AND CANNON v. UNITED STATES

decided: January 8, 1934.

BURROUGHS AND CANNON
v.
UNITED STATES



CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

Hughes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Cardozo

Author: Sutherland

[ 290 U.S. Page 540]

 MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

An indictment returned by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia charges petitioners, in ten counts, with violations of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act of February 28, 1925, c. 368, Title III, 43 Stat. 1053, 1070; U. S. C., Title 2, § 241, et seq. The pertinent provisions of the act are contained in §§ 241, 242 and 243, reproduced in the margin,*fn* and in §§ 244 and 252. Section 241 defines

[ 290 U.S. Page 541]

     the term, "political committee," as including any organization which accepts contributions for the purpose of influencing or attempting to influence the election of presidential and vice presidential electors in two or more states. Every political committee is required to have a chairman and a treasurer before any contribution may be accepted. One of the duties of the treasurer is to keep a detailed and exact account of all contributions made to

[ 290 U.S. Page 542]

     or for the committee. Every person who receives a contribution for a political committee is required to render to the treasurer a detailed account thereof, with specified particulars. By § 244, the treasurer is required to file with the clerk of the House of Representatives, at designated times, a statement containing the name and address of each contributor, date and amount of each contribution and other particulars, complete as of the day next preceding the date of filing. By § 252 (a), penalties of fine and imprisonment are imposed upon any person who violates any of the provisions of the chapter; and by subdivision (b), increased penalties are imposed upon any person who willfully violates any of those provisions.

The first eight counts of the indictment purport to charge petitioners with substantive violations of the act, and the ninth and tenth counts, with conspiracy to violate it -- four of the eight counts charging willful violations; the other four merely charging violations, that is to say "unlawful" violations.

In the supreme court of the District, a demurrer was interposed to the indictment on the grounds (1) that each count of the indictment failed to allege facts sufficient to constitute an offense against the United States, and (2) that the Federal Corrupt Practices Act contravenes § 1, Art. II, of the Federal Constitution, providing for the appointment by each state of electors. The District supreme court sustained the demurrer upon the first ground, rendering unnecessary any ruling as to the second. Upon appeal to the District court of appeals the judgment was reversed. That court ruled each of the ten counts sufficient, and upheld the constitutionality of the act. 62 App.D.C. 163; 65 F.2d 796. The case is here on certiorari.

First. We do not stop to describe the eight substantive counts. In the opinion of a majority of the court, there is a failure in each count to charge an offense under the

[ 290 U.S. Page 543]

     statute. The conspiracy counts we hold are sufficient. The ninth count charges with particularity that the petitioner Burroughs was the treasurer of a designated political committee from July 22, 1928, to and including March 16, 1929, which committee during that period accepted contributions and made expenditures for the purpose of influencing and attempting to influence the election of presidential and vice presidential electors in two states. The several amounts of certain contributions made for the committee are set forth, together with the dates when made and the name of the contributor. The count recites the duty of Burroughs under the statute to make the statements therein prescribed in respect of these contributions, and charges that both petitioners, one as treasurer and the other as chairman of the committee, "then well knowing all the premises aforesaid," unlawfully and feloniously did conspire together and with other persons to commit "the four willfully committed offenses" charged against Burroughs as treasurer in the first, third, fifth and seventh counts of the indictment, namely, willful failure to file the statements of such contributions required by § 244, the allegations of those counts being incorporated by reference as fully as if repeated. The count further alleges certain overt acts committed in pursuance of the conspiracy.

The tenth count charges in substantially identical language a conspiracy to commit the four offenses not designated as willful, charged in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth counts of the indictment, namely, unlawful failure to file the required statements, the allegations of those counts being likewise incorporated by reference as fully as if repeated.

We are of opinion that these allegations are sufficient in each count to charge a conspiracy to violate the pertinent provisions of the act. Knowledge of the facts constituting the contemplated substantive offenses is sufficiently

[ 290 U.S. Page 544]

     alleged by the phrase, "well knowing all the premises aforesaid." Brooks v. United States, 267 U.S. 432, 439-440. And intent unlawfully, or unlawfully and willfully, to evade performance of the statutory duty is clearly enough alleged by the statement that the accused conspired to do so. Frohwerk v. United States, 249 U.S. 204, 209. Moreover, quite apart from the question of their legal sufficiency to charge substantive offenses, the eight counts which are incorporated by description set forth the pertinent facts, and may be considered in determining the adequacy of the conspiracy counts. Crain v. United States, 162 U.S. 625, 633; Blitz v. United States, 153 U.S. 308, 317. These facts are narrated by the court below and need not be repeated here.

Second. The only point of the constitutional objection necessary to be considered is that the power of appointment of presidential electors and the manner of their appointment are expressly committed by § 1, Art. II, of the Constitution to the states, and that the congressional authority is thereby limited to determining "the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same ...


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