This section is from the book "The Constitutional Law Of The United States", by Westel Woodbury Willoughby. Also available from Amazon: Constitutional Law.
The question as to the right of the government to compel the production of books and papers is closely connected with the provision of the Fourth Amendment with reference to unreasonable searches and seizures.
The provision of the Fourth Amendment that "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," has received comparatively little direct interpretation and application at the hands of the Supreme Court. In E.r parte Jackson82 it was held that the Amendment applies to sealed papers in the mails.83
80 Boyd v. United States, 116 U. S. 61G; 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 524; 29 L. ed. 746. Bocks and papers of a defendant obtained otherwise than through his own hand may be used against him, and this even though they may have been obtained by illegal means. Adams v. New York, 192 U. S. 585; 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 372; 48 L. ed. 575.
81 "The corporation is a creature of the State. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It has certain special privileges or franchises, and holds them subject to the laws of the States of the limitations of its charter. . . . Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it so long as it obeys the laws of its creation. There is a reserved right in the legislature, to investigate its contracts and find out whether it has exceeded its powers. ... It is true that the corporation in this case was chartered under the laws of New Jersey . . . but such franchises, so far as they involve questions of interstate commerce, must also be exercised in subordination to the power of Congress to regulate such commerce. . . . The powers of the General Government in this particular in the vindication of its own laws are the same as if the corporation had been created by act of Congress." Hale v. Henkel. 201 U. S. 43; 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 370; 50 L. ed. 652. See also Consolidated Rendering Co. v. Vermont, 207 U. S. 541; 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 178; 52 L. ed. 327.