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Opinion of the Court.
We cannot better close this discussion than by quoting the language of Chief Justice Marshall, in the case of United States v. Wiltberger, 5 Wheat. 76:
"The rule that penal laws are to be construed strictly is perhaps not much less old than construction itself. It is founded on the tenderness of the law for the rights of individuals, and on the plain principle that the power of punishment is vested in the legislative and not in the judicial department. It is the legislature, not the court, which is to define a crime and ordain its punishment. It is said that, notwithstanding this rule, the intention of the lawmaker must govern in the construction of penal as well as other statutes. But this is not a new independent rule which subverts the old. It is a modification of the ancient maxim and amounts to this, that though penal statutes are to be construed strictly, they are not to be construed so strictly as to defeat the obvious intention of the legislature. The maxim is not to be applied so as to narrow the words of the statute to the exclusion of cases which those words, in their ordinary acceptation, or in that sense in which the legislature obviously used them, would comprehend. The intention of the legislature is to be collected from the words they employ. Where there is no ambiguity in the words there is no room for construction. The case must be a strong one indeed which would justify a court in departing from the plain meaning of words, especially in a penal act, in search of an intention which the words themselves did not suggest. To determine that a case is within the intention of a statute its language must authorize us to say so. It would be dangerous, indeed, to carry the principle that a case which is within the reason or mischief of a statute is within its provisions, so far as to punish a crime not enumerated in the statute because it is of equal atrocity, or of a kindred character with those which are enumerated. If this principle has ever been recognized in expounding criminal law, it has been in cases of considerable irritation, which it. would be unsafe to consider as precedents forming a general rule in other cases." See likewise Sarlls v. United States, 152 U. S. 570.
The judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals is
Statement of the Case.
CREDITS COMMUTATION COMPANY v. UNITED
SAME v. DEXTER.
SAME v. AMES.
Nos. 233, 234, 235. Submitted February 26, 1900.- Decided April 9, 1900. When leave to intervene in an equity case is asked and refused, the order denying leave is not regarded as a final determination of the merits of the claim on which the intervention is based, but leaves the petitioner at full liberty to assert his rights in any other appropriate form of proceeding. The action of the court below, in denying the petitions to intervene, was an exercise of purely discretionary power, and was not final in its char
ON October 9, 1893, Oliver Ames, 2d, and Samuel Carr, executors of Frederick L. Ames, deceased, and Peter B. Wyckoff and Edwin F. Atkins filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eighth Circuit a bill of complaint against the Union Pacific Railway Company and a number of other companies in which the Union Pacific Railway Company had interests, praying for the appointment of receivers, the enforcement of certain alleged liens, and the administration of the properties of the Union Pacific Railway Company. On October 13, 1893, S. H. H. Clark, Oliver W. Mink and Ellery Anderson were appointed receivers, and on November 13, 1893, upon petition of the Attorney General of the United States, John W. Doane and Frederick R. Coudert were appointed additional receivers.
On January 21, 1895, a bill of complaint was filed in the said Circuit Court by F. Gordon Dexter and Oliver Ames, 2d, as trustees of the first mortgage of the Union Pacific Railway Company, to foreclose that mortgage.
At the May term, 1897, the United States filed, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, a bill of complaint against the Union Pacific Railway Company, and against S. H. H. Clark, Oliver W. Mink, Ellery Anderson, John W. Doane and Frederick R. Coudert, who had theretofore, on October 13, 1893, in the suit brought in said court by Oliver Ames, Samuel Carr and others against the said Union Pacific
Opinion of the Court.
Railway Company, been appointed receivers therefor, and against F. Gordon Dexter and Oliver Ames, as trustees, the Union Trust Company of New York, as trustee, J. Pierpont Morgan and Edwin F. Atkins, trustees, the Central Trust Company of New York, as trustee. The object of this bill was to secure a decree of foreclosure of the subsidy lien of the United States upon the property of the Union Pacific Railway Company between Council Bluffs, Iowa, and a point five miles west of Ogden, Utah.
On April 28, 1897, the Credits Commutation Company, a corporation of the State of Iowa, filed a petition in each of said three cases, praying for leave to intervene therein as a party, and to be heard to assert certain alleged rights and interests. On May 22, 1897, the Combination Bridge Company, a corporation of the State of Iowa, also filed petitions in said cases for leave to intervene therein for the same reasons set forth at length in the petitions of the Credits Commutation Company. On May 24, 1897, after hearing the counsel of the respective parties, an order was entered by the Circuit Court denying the prayers for leave to intervene, and on the same day an appeal was allowed to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. On December 7, 1898, motions by the appellees to dismiss said appeals were sustained, and said appeals were accordingly dismissed; and thereupon the appellants in open court prayed an appeal to this court, which was allowed. Credits Commutation Company v. Ames' Executors, 62 U. S. App. 728. Motion to dismiss or affirm was submitted.
Mr. John F. Dillon, Mr. W. R. Kelly and Mr. G. M. Lambertson for the motion.
The Attorney General and Mr. John C. Cowin filed a brief in support of the motion.
Mr. Henry J. Taylor and Mr. John C. Coombs opposing.
MR. JUSTICE SHIRAS delivered the opinion of the court.
The Credits Commutation Company and the Combination
Opinion of the Court.
Bridge Company, corporations of the State of Iowa, filed petitions for leave to intervene in three suits against the Union Pacific Railway Company. The object of those suits was to enforce by foreclosure the payment of bonds secured by mortgage and of a debt due to the United States created by certain subsidy bonds, and, pending such proceedings, the appointment of receivers to prevent the disintegration of properties of the railway company.
The Combination Bridge Company is the owner of a bridge across the Missouri River at Sioux City. The Credits Commutation Company is the owner of the stock of the bridge company, and also of interests in the capital stock of certain railroads connected by the said bridge. The petition alleges that the Credits Commutation Company was organized for the purpose of connecting said bridge and railroads with the Union Pacific Railway.
The Union Pacific Railway Company is a consolidated company, composed of the Union Pacific Railroad Company and the Kansas Pacific Railway Company, and Congress, by the act of July 1, 1862, in order to "secure to the Government the use of the same," conferred upon said companies grants of large and valuable tracts of the public lands, and further subsidized said companies by an advance to them of the public credit in the form of bonds of the United States. The fifteenth section of the said act of July 1, 1862, was in the following terms:
"And be it further enacted, That any other railroad company now incorporated, or hereafter to be incorporated, shall have the right to connect their road with the road and branches provided for by this act, at such places and upon such just and equitable terms as the President of the United States may prescribe. Wherever the word company is used in this act it shall be construed to embrace the words their associates, successors and assigns, as if the words had been properly added thereto."
The petition alleges that the Credits Commutation Company was organized in the latter part of 1894, but admits that said company has abstained from making any application to the President of the United States to fix the place at which and the
Opinion of the Court.
just and equitable terms upon which said company should build a railroad to connect with the road of the Union Pacific Railway company, because the latter company had been embarrassed and all its property was in the hands of receivers, and bills to foreclose in behalf of the holders of mortgage bonds and to enforce the creditor rights of the United States had been filed. It seems to be the theory of the petitioners that, under the provisions of the act of Congress, they have a right to connect their railroads, now or to be constructed, with the railroad of the Union Pacific Railway Company, and that they have, therefore, a right to intervene in the foreclosure proceedings, in order to protect their right to so connect and to protect the right of the public in such railroad connections.
As heretofore stated, the Circuit Court denied the petitions for leave to intervene, and upon appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals that court dismissed the appeals. The view of the Circuit Court of Appeals was that the order of the Circuit Court refusing leave to intervene was not a final judgment or decree from which an appeal could be taken, and that, at any rate, the action of the lower court in refusing leave to intervene was not reviewable on appeal, inasmuch as it rested in the sound discretion of the chancellor to admit or reject the intervention. 62 U. S. App. 728, 732.
To show that the Circuit Court, in denying the petition for leave to intervene, was not exercising the usual discretion of a chancellor in passing upon a petition of an outside party for leave to intervene, but adjudicated the petitioners' rights asserted in the petitions, as if upon demurrer thereto, we are pointed to the language used: "Ordered, that the prayers of the petitioners for leave to intervene herein be and the same are hereby denied, not as matter of discretion, but because said petitions do not state facts sufficient to show that the petitioners, or either of them, have a legal right to intervene."
It is urged that the Circuit Court declined to treat the subject as of one of discretion, and elected to determine the legal rights of the petitioners, so as to preclude them from resorting thereafter to some other tribunal, and that, therefore, its judg ment was a final one and properly reviewable on appeal.