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Supreme Law Firm catches U.S. Supreme Court being GROSSLY LAZY in 1945 Re: 3 definitions of "United States"

On Tuesday, October 22, 2013 10:18 AM, "Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S."  wrote:

The U.S. Supreme Court waited until 1945 to issue this decision;  and,
as you may recall, the whole world was quite distracted with that little item
called World War II at that time ...
[1]  It may be merely the name of a sovereign occupying the position analogous to that of other sovereigns in the family of nations.  [2] It may designate the territory over which the sovereignty to the United States extends, or [3] it may be the collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution.  

I added the numbers in square brackets [ ] for clarity.

The Supreme Court pulled that language straight out of the Harvard Law Review,
"The Status of Our New Territories," by C.C. Langdell (January 25, 1899).

See Footnote 6:


Langdell’s “second” definition corresponds to [1] in Hooven above:
Secondly. - Since the adoption of the Constitution, the term "United States" has been the name of a sovereign, and that sovereign occupies a position analogous to that of the personal sovereigns of most European countries.
Langdell’s “third” definition corresponds to [2] in Hooven above:
Thirdly. - Since the treaty with England of September 3, 1783, the term "United States" has often been used to designate all territory over which the sovereignty of the United States extended.
Langdell’s “first” definition corresponds to [3] in Hooven above:
First. - It is the collective name of the States which are united together by and under the Constitution of the United States ....

p.s. In case you missed it, Hooven's second definition (Langdell's third definition)
suffers from an obvious tautology:

In Hooven:

It ["United States"] may designate the territory 
over which the sovereignty to the United States extends

In Langdell:

"United States" has often been used to designate all territory 
over which the sovereignty of the United States extended

In general, it is very bad grammar to use the term being defined
in any definition of that same term!

Now hear this:  Footnote 6 in Hooven above also cites:

Thayer, "The Insular Tariff Cases in the Supreme Court," 15 Harv. L. Rev. 164
Littlefield, "The Insular Cases," 15 Harv. L. Rev. 169, 281.

Here's what we found on Page 220 in that Volume 15
of the Harvard Law Review:

Moreover, this principle applies as well to ambiguity and deception in the case law.  Lack of specificity leads to uncertainty, which leads in turn to court decisions which are also void for vagueness.  The 6th Amendment guarantees our right to ignore vague and ambiguous laws, and this must be extended to vague and ambiguous case law.  In light of their enormous influence in laying the foundations for territorial heterogeneity and a legislative democracy for the federal zone, The Insular Cases have been justly criticized, by peers, for lacking the minimum judicial precision required in such cases:
            The Absence of Judicial Precision. -- Whether the decisions in the Insular Cases are considered correct or incorrect, it seems generally admitted that the opinions rendered are deficient in clearness and in precision, elements most essential in cases of such importance. Elaborate discussions and irreconcilable differences upon general principles, and upon fascinating and fundamental problems suggested by equally indiscriminating dicta in other cases, complicate, where they do not hide, the points at issue.  It is extremely difficult to determine exactly what has been decided;  the position of the court in similar cases arising in the future, or still pending, is entirely a matter of conjecture.  ...
            It is still more to be regretted that the defects in the decision under discussion are by no means exceptional.  From our system of allowing judges to express opinion upon general principles and of following judicial precedent, two evils almost inevitably result:  our books are overcrowded with dicta, while dictum is frequently taken for decision.  Since the questions involved are both fundamental and political, in constitutional cases more than in any others the  temptation to digress, necessarily strong, is seldom resisted;  at the same time it is strikingly difficult, in these cases, to distinguish between decision, ratio decidendi, and dictum.  Yet because the questions involved are both extensive and political, and because the evils of a dictum or of an ill-considered decision are of corresponding importance, a precise analysis, with a thorough consideration of the questions raised, and of those questions only, is imperative.  The continued absence of judicial precision may possibly become a matter of political importance;  foropinions such as those rendered cannot be allowed a permanent place in our system of government.
[15 Harvard Law Review 220, anonymous]

Sincerely yours,
/s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S.
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October 22, 2013 in Current Affairs | Permalink