Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1879

Abstract

The Constitution of the United States provides that "a person charged in any State with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice and be found in another State, shall, on demand of the executive authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having jurisdiction of the crime." The act of Congress of 1793 imposed the duty of surrender upon the executive of the State in which the fugitive should be found, and provided the manner in which the charge of crime should be authenticated for his action. It is not a little remarkable that after ninety years' experience ul}der the Constitution, and after many thousand cases have arisen and been disposed of, nearly every question that could arise under the constitutional provision is still either a question in dispute or is treated by the authorities as if it were so, and that consequently there is neither uniformity of action among the several State executives nor uniformity of decision in the courts. Nor is this less unfortunate than remarkable; for the obligation to surrender fugitive offenders is older than the Constitution, resting upon a principle of comity, the justice and policy of which arc alike manifest; but having been made the subject of solemn compact, the duty to observe it has become the more imperative, and the failure cannot fail to lead to unpleasant controversies. These may not be of sufficient importance to endanger the Union, but they must surely weaken to some extent the fraternal ties between the several members, and to enkindle a bitterness that in some form will be certain to bear evil fruit.


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