Political Crimes Defined

Continental Europe is in the midst of revolutions. The immediate antecedents are such as to suggest the probable accompaniment of more widespread and perhaps even more intense passions of various sort, than have ever before been brought into being with a revolution. This in turn suggests the likelihood that there will follow more political plots and counter-revolutions than is usual in such cases. From such causes it is highly probable that the juridical meaning of the statutory words “an offense of a political character” will be a matter of frequent controversy, as successive crops of exiles claim the right of asylum in America. The character of the present revolutions is such that, more than usual the exiles will be from the more fortunate and educated class which has become disprivileged by the democratizing process. From such considerations and others, it now becomes unusually important for us to do a little dispassionate thinking upon this subject before our own passions become still more involved. If we fail to secure a definition that really defines political offenses, then our own judiciary may b6 compelled to flounder in the meshes of its own lawless passions, and make the judicial action dependent upon each judge’s whim, caprice, or partisan passions.