THREATENED CONFLICT IN UTAH.
The Federal Courts Treated with Defiance and Contempt by the Mormon Authorities—A Message from the President.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 14.—The President sent the following message to Congress to-day:
To the Senate and House of Representatives.
I consider it my duty to call the attention of Congress to the condition of affairs in the Territory of Utah, and to the dangers likely to arise if it continues during the coming recess, from a threatened conflict between the Federal and Territorial authorities.
No discussion is necessary in regard to the general policy of Congress respecting the Territories of the United States, and I only wish now to refer to so much of that policy as concerns their judicial affairs and the enforcement of law within their borders. No material differences are found in respect to these matters in the organic acts of the Territories, but an examination of them will show that it has been the invariable policy of Congress to place and keep their civil and criminal jurisdiction, with certain limited exceptions, in the hands of persons nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and that the general administration of justice should be as prescrib-ed by Congressional enactment. Sometimes the power given to the Territorial Legislatures has been somewhat larger and sometimes somewhat smaller than the pow-ers generally conferred. Never, however, have powers been given to a Territorial Legislature inconsistent with the idea that the general judicature of the Territory was to be under the direct supervision of the national Gov-ernment.
WHAT THE ORGANIC LAW OF UTAH REQUIRES.
Accordingly, the organic law creating the Territory of Utah, passed Sept. 9,1850, provided for the appoint-ment of a Supreme Court (the Judges of which are Judges of the District Courts), a clerk, a marshal, and an attorney, and to these Federal officers is confided the jurisdiction in all important matters. But, as decided recently by the Supreme Court, the act requires the jurors to serve in these courts to be selected in such a manner as the Territorial Legislature sees fit to prescribe. It has undoubtedly been the desire of Congress, so far as the same might be compatible with the supervisory control of the Federal Government, to leave the minor details con-nected with the administration of law to regulation by local authority; but such a desire ought not to govern when the effect will be, owing to the peculiar circum-stances of the case, to produce a conflict between the Federal and the Territorial authorities, or to impede the enforcement of law, or in any way to endanger the peace and good order of the Territory.
SPECIAL LEGISLATION NECESSARY.
Evidently it was never intended to intrust the Territori-al Legislature with power which would enable it by creat-ing judicatures of its own, or increasing the jurisdiction of courts appointed by Territorial authority although recognized by Congress, to take the administration of the law out of the hands of Judges appointed by the President, or to interfere with their action. Several years of unhappy experience make it apparent that in both of these respects the territory of Utah requires special legislation by Congress.
Public opinion in that Territory, produced by circum-stances too notorious to require further notice, makes it necessary, in my opinion, in order to prevent the miscarriage of justice, and to maintain the supremacy of the laws of the United States and of the Federal Government, to provide that the selection of grand and petit jurors for the district courts, if not put under the control of federal officers, shall be placed in the hands of persons entirely independent of those who are de-termined not to enforce any act of Congress obnoxious to them; and, also, to pass some act which shall deprive the Probate Courts, or any court created by the Terri-torial Legislature, of any power to interfere with or impede the action of the courts held by the United States Judges.
I am convinced that so long as Congress leaves the se-leetion of jurors to the local authorities it will be futile to make any effort to enforce laws not acceptable to a majority of the people of the territory, or which inter-feres with local prejudices, or provides for
THE PUNISHMENT OF POLYGAMY
or any of its affiliated vices or crimes. I presume that Congress in passing upon this subject will provide all reasonable and proper safeguards to secure honest and competent jurors whose verdicts will command con-fidence and be a guaranty of equal protection to all good and law-abiding citizens, and at the same time make it understood that crime cannot be committed with impunity.
I have before said that while the laws creating the several Territories have generally contained uniform provisions in respect of the Judiciary, yet Congress has occasionally varied these provisions in minor details as the circumstances of the Territory affected seemed to demand, and, in creating the Territory of Utah, Congress evidently thought that circumstances there might require judicial remedies not necessary in other Territories, for by Section 9 of the act creating that territory, it is provided that a writ of error may be brought from the decision of any Judge of the Supreme or District Courts of the territory to the Su-preme Court of the United States upon any writ of habeas corpus involving the question of personal free-dom, a provision never inserted in any other territorial act, except that creating the Territory of New Mexico. This extraordinary provision shows that Congress in-tended to mould the organic law to the peculiar neces-sities of the territory, and the legislation which I now recommend is in full harmony with the precedent thus established.
THE CONFLICT BEGUN.
I am advised that the United States Courts in Utah have been greatly embarrassed by the action of the Territorial Legislature in conferring criminal jurisdic-tion and the power to issue writs of hadeas corpus on Probate Courts la the Territory, and by their conse-quent interference with the administration of justice. Manifestly, the Legislature of the Territory cannot give to any Court whatever the power to discharge by habeas corpus persons held by or under process from the Courts created by Congress; but complaint is made that persons so held have been discharged in that way by the Probate Courts.
I cannot doubt that Congress will agree with me that such a state of things ought not longer to be tolerated, and that no class of persons anywhere should be al-lowed to treat the laws of the United States with open defiance and contempt.
Apprehensions are entertained that if Congress ad-journs without any action upon this subject, turbulence and disorder will follow, rendering military interfer-ence necessary, a result I should greatly deprecate; and in view of this and other obvious considerations I earnestly recommend that Congress at the present ses-sion pass some act which will enable the District Courts of Utah to proceed with independence and efficiency in the administration of law and justice.
(Signed) U. S. GRANT.
EXECUTIVE MANSION Feb. 14, 1873.
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