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UNITED STATES V. ARJONA, 120 U. S. 479 (1887)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Arjona, 120 U.S. 479 (1887)

United States v. Arjona

Submitted January 3, 1887

Decided March 7, 1887

120 U.S. 479


It is within the constitutional power of Congress to enact laws to provide for the punishment of the offenses of counterfeiting notes of a foreign bank or corporation, or of having in possession a plate from which may be printed counterfeits of the notes of a foreign bank or corporation, and it is not necessary to allege in an indictment for such an offense or to show that the notes of such a hank or corporation are notes of money or issue of a foreign Government, sovereign, or

Page 120 U. S. 480

power, nor is it necessary to allege that the offense is "an offense against the law of nations."

The counterfeiting of foreign securities, whether national or corporate, which have been put out under sanction of public authority at home -- especially the counterfeiting of bank notes and bank bills -- is an offense against the law of nations.

The United States being bound to protect a right secured by the law of nations to another nation or its people, Congress has the constitutional power to enact laws for that purpose; but this does not prevent a state from enacting laws to punish the same act when it may be an offense against the authority of the state as well as that of the United States.

Indictment under the Act of May 16, 1884, 23 Stat. 22, to prevent and punish the counterfeiting within the United States of notes, bonds, and other securities of foreign governments. The court below certified a Division in Opinion on several points. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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