Ansbro v. United States

In Ansbro v. United States, 159 U.S. 695 (1895), where it became necessary in a criminal case to determine whether there was a right to come directly to this court from a Circuit Court of the United States in virtue of the provisions of the fifth section of the act of 1891, the court, speaking through Mr. Chief Justice Fuller, said (p. 697): "The jurisdiction of this court must be maintained then, if at all, on the ground that this is a case `that involves the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States,' or `in which the constitutionality of any law of the United States is drawn in question.' But we cannot find that any constitutional question was raised at the trial. Motions to quash, to instruct the jury to find for the defendant, for new trial, and in arrest of judgment were made, but in neither of them, so far as appears, nor by any exception to rulings on the admission or exclusion of evidence, nor to instructions given or the refusal of instructions asked, was any suggestion made that defendant was being denied any constitutional right or that the law under which he was indicated was unconstitutional. The first time that anything appears upon that subject is in the assignment of errors, filed February 13, 1895. "A case may be said to involve the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States when a title, right, privilege, or immunity is claimed under that instrument, but a definite issue in respect of the possession of the right must be distinctly deducible from the record before the judgment of the court below can be revised on the ground of error in the disposal of such a claim by its decision. . . . An assignment of errors cannot be availed of to import questions into a cause which the record does not show were raised in the court below and rulings asked thereon, so as to give jurisdiction to this court under the 5th section of the act of March 3, 1891 (c. 517, 26 Stat. 826, 827)."