UNITED STATES V. LOFTIS.
Munday, Evarts fl Adcock and Worth Osgood, for complainant. Banning fl Banning, for defendants. WALLACE, O. J. This cause having been set down for hearing upon the pleadings on motion of the defendants, and because of the complainant's default in taking proofs as required by the rules, the complainant cannot be permitted to introduce exhibits and documents upon such hearing. which are not made by proper reference a pordown the case for hearing upon tion of this bill. The order the pleadings was made expressly to preclude the complainant from introducing evidence which it was its duty, under the rules, to proffer in time to permit the defendants to reply to The bill is dismissed, with costs.
(Di,trict Oourt, D. Oregon. July 11, 1882.)
CRIlIES-POSTING NON·MAILABLE MATTER-WRITING DEFINED.
A sealed letter deposited in the mail, addressed to some one, is not a Writing or publication within the purview of the first clause of section 3893 of the Re· vised Statutes, declaring obscene, etc., books, writings, ete., or .. other publication of an indecent character," non-mailable.
S.um-LETTBR SEALED-NoT WITHIN PROHIBITION.
A sealed letter is not within the prohibition of said section 3893, however indecent or obscene in its contents; but if there is any such delineation or language put upon the envelope containing it, it thereby becomes non-mailable. and the person depositing it in the mail thereby commits a crime.
Information-for Violation of Section 3893 of the Statutes. James F. Watson, for plaintiff. George H. Williams and George Durham, for defendant. DEADY, D. J. The defendant is accused by the information in this case of "the crime of depositing for mailing and delivery in the post. office of the United States a publication of an indecent character, and a letter containing indecent and scurrilous epithets, contrary to section 3893 of the Revised Statutes, committed by knowingly mailing at Rainier, in a sealed envelope, postage paid, and addressed to 'Mr. Joish Way Thayer, Oregon City, Oregon,' a certain obscene and indecent writing and publication" in words and figures as herein set forth. The defendant demurs to the information because it does not state facts sufficient to constitute a crime, and upon the argument thereof made the point that however the act of the defendant may be char-
acterized by the general charge in the information, its true character must be ascertained from the 'particular facts stlJ.ted therein; and that it appeared therefrom that the alleged indecent "publication" was only a private, sealed letter, and not a publication at all, or anything within the purview of the statute; and it was also suggested in support of the demurrer that the language contained in the letter, however filthy, was not "obscene, lewd, or lascivious." The legislation upon this subject, it appears, commenced with section 148 of the post-office act of July 8, 1872, (17 St. 302,) which provided "that no obscene book, pamphlet, picture, print, or other publication of a vulgar or indecent character, or any letter upon the envelope of which or postal card upon which scurrilous epithets may have been written or printed, or disloyal devices printed or engraven, shall be carried in the mail." By the act of March 8, 1878, (17 St. 599,) said section 148 was amended so as to omit the word "vulgar," and all mention of "disloyal devices," and to include "lewd orlascivious" books, etc., as well as "obscene" ones, and a "paper" as well as a "picture or print;" and the word "indecent" was added to the word "scurrilous," in describing the epithets prohibited on a postal card or the envelope of a letter. ' A new clause was also added, prohibiting the transportation in the mails of any "article or thing designed or intended" to prevent conception or procure abortion, or "for any indecent or immoral use or nature," or any communication or notice giving any information where, how, or of whom or by what means any such things may be obtained or made. This section, as thus amended, became section 3893 of the Revised Statutes, which was again amended by the act of July 12, 1876, (19 St. 90,) so as to add the word "writing" to the category of non-mailable books, etc., and in regard to such letters and postal cards substituted the following: "And every letter, upon the envelope of which, or postal card upon which, indecent, obscene, lewd, or lascivious epithets, terms, or language may be written or printed," is hereby declared to be non-mailable matter. The punishment for mailing such matter is a fine not less than $100 nor more than $500, or imprisonment at hard labor not les8 than one year nor more than ten years, or both. . It is admitted that the language used in this letter is indecent. Indeed, it is grossly so. The term is said to signify more than indelicate and les8 than immodest-to mean something unfit for the eye or ear. Worcest. Dict. And I think it is obscene, also. This latter
word has a wide range,in both the Latin and English languages. It includes on the one hand what is merelyinauspiciouB, foUl, orindecent, and on the other w.hat is immodest and calculated to excite impure emotions or desirEls. Worcest. Diet. It is also admitted that the case made in the information doesllot come within the clause of the statute 'directed against letters eo nomine; but it is contended by the district attorney that the letter in question is a "writing" within the meaning of that term as used in the first clause of the section,' which reads: "Every obscene, lewd, or lascivious book, pamphlet, picture, paper, writing, print, or other lication of an indecent character," is declared non-mailable. Speaking generally, this letter is a writing; but to bring it within this clause of the statute it must be also a "publication." This word "writing" occurs in an enumeration of things-books, pamphlets, pictures, prints, and papers-which ex vi termini prima facie publications. The general phrase with which the enumeration ends, ·or other publication of an indecent character," impliedly asserts that the things before enumerated are publications., The expression "John and James and other men" is one in which, by a necessary implication, it is asserted that John and James are men. A publicationissomething-as a bookorprint-which has beenpriblished-made public or known' to the world. And a writing, as well as a printing, may be published. What constitutes a publication or a. making public is a question, and must generally depend upon the circumstances of each case. But a private letter sent by ,one individ. ual to another in a sealed envelope, cannot be considered a "publication" within this statute.. But the fact that the statute has expressly provided for the case of a "letter" ina separate clause, in which the offence that may be committed by means of it is confined to indecent, obscene, etc., language on the envelope in which it is enclosed, is conclusive to Iny mind that congress did not intend to in6lude it in the term "writing," as used in the clause concerning obscene publications. It never was the intention of the law to take cognizance of what passes between individuals in private communications under the sanctity and security of a seal. And probably the chief reason for making it a crime to put indecent or obscene delineations or language on tl envelope enclosing such communications is to prevent the post-office from being used as a means for committing cowardly and v.12,no.8-43
indecent assaults at's. safe ,distance, or anonymously, upon the inga and character of anyone, by the USE:' of indecent or immoral and offensive epithets and suggestions openly addressed to him on the envelope of a letter or a postal <lard. But what is said privatelywithin the envelope 'and 'undel'theseal....;..-the statute does not notice. It eould not well do sO'without establishing an espionage over pri. vate correspondence, which wottldnever be thought of in a free ' country. As was said by Fieldin-Ex parte Jackson, 96 U. S., 197, ,"the diffioulty attending the subject arises, not from the want of power in congress to .p:rescribe regulations as to what shall constitute mail matter, but from ,the necessity, of enforcing them consistently with rights reserved to: the people;offa.r greater importance than the transportation of the mail." This statute is largely preventive in its charac,ter. It defines nOll. mailable matter by its external appearance when a letter or sealed package, and by its Mntents wmen not; and'therefore open to inspectitm by thepost.office -officials. But'if it was intended that it should extend to the contents of 8; sealed letter, some provision would have been made for a legal examination when ther.e, was re'ason to believe that its contents were obnoxious to the law, and its enforcement not left to the ehance complaint of the person to whom it might be addressed. But, ,as the case stands, it is apparent that the matter to be excluded from the mails, and which is made a crime to deposit therein, is such that its illegal character is open to inspection and can be ascertained without breaking the seal of private correspondence. Therefore, in the case of a letter, unless 'it is non-mailable by reain which it son of something upon the outside of it, or the is contained, it is mailable without reference to the character or morality of its contents. And yet it is quite certain that the public good would be promoted and no private right injured by including such a case as this within the statute, upon the complaint of the party injured, and thereby vent the mails from being used 'as a comparatively-safe means by one person to annoy and wound the feelings of another by applying to him in a letter indecent or obscene epithets, or accusing him in gross and beastly, language of criminal or immoral conduct. The demurrer is sustained.
caircuit:(J¢.t'l't, lJ.Kentuck1l. July; Itl, 1882.) .
POSTMASTER-REFUSAL TO DELIVER MAIL MATTER-REMEDY. ,
Where the postmaster refuses to deliver registered letters and letters containing money orders, and other matter addressed through on which postage has been prepaid, the rem,edy of the aggrieved party is by mandamul or replevin, and not by injunction,.
In E q u i t y . . . David W. Sanders and1ames A. Beattie,f9rCOQlplainant. A. A. Freeman, Asst. U. S. Atty. Gen., for defendant. MATTHEWS, Justice. The question pre"sented in this case, stated in its simplest .form, as it is claimed to arise' upon the pleadings, is whether this court will, by its writ of injunction, prohibit a postmaster of the United States from refusing to deliver registered letters, and letters containing money orders, and other matter addressed through themail.onwhichhasbeenprepaidtheproperpostage.to the party to whom they are directed. In my opinion there is no such jurisdiction; If the alleged right ensts to require by judicial process the performance of such a duty on the part of a. public officer towards a private individual, then it is a legal right, the specific enforcement of which is the proper function of a mandamus, or replevin fOr the recovery of the possession of the articles, or an action for damages against the officer. There is no sufficient ground for the interference of equity. If, on the other hand, a postmaster is respofisible only-to his political superior, and amenable to the law only for such breaches of duty as it has defined, and by the means it has provided, as by indictment and punishment and removal from office, then the present grievance is as much withdrawn from the jurisdiction of a court of equity as from the ordinary course of the common law. It is quite certain that a perpetual injunction in the terms prayed for could not lawfully be granted, for the postmaster might be lawfully required by the postmaster general to withhold from delivery correspondence with a named party, believed by him to be engaged in a forbidden business; and an injunction for each instance in which it might be shown that no such prohibition existed, would be but an equitable replevin, without the justification of preventing a multiplicity of actions. For these reasons the bill should be dismissed, and it is so ordered. BARR, D. J., concurs in the foregoing opinion.