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The Constitution Operates on States In Their Corporate Capacities

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  • Legalbear
    The judicial power must, therefore, be vested in some court, by congress; and to suppose that it was not an obligation binding on them, but might, at their
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 6 2:51 PM
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      The judicial power must, therefore, be vested in some court, by congress; and to suppose that it was not an obligation binding on them, but might, at their pleasure, be omitted or declined, is to suppose that, under the sanction of the constitution, they might defeat the constitution itself; a construction which would lead to such a result cannot be sound. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 329 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      It will be found that whenever a particular object is to be effected, the language of the constitution is always imperative, and cannot be disregarded without violating the first principles of public duty. On the other hand, the legislative powers are given in language which implies discretion, as from the nature of legislative power such a discretion must ever be exercised. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 333 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      The words are, "the judicial power (which includes appellate power) shall extend to all cases," &c., and "in all other cases before mentioned the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction." It is the case, then, and not the court, that gives the jurisdiction. If the judicial power extends to the case, it will be in vain to search in the letter of the constitution for any qualification as to the tribunal where it depends. It is incumbent, then, upon those who assert such a qualification to show its existence by necessary implication. If the 339*339 text be clear and distinct, no restriction upon its plain and obvious import ought to be admitted, unless the inference be irresistible. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 338-9 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      But it is plain that the framers of the constitution did contemplate that cases within the judicial cognizance of the United States not only might but would arise in the state courts, in the exercise of their ordinary jurisdiction. With this view the sixth article declares, that "this constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." It is obvious that this obligation is imperative upon the state judges in their official, and not merely in their private, capacities. From the very nature of their judicial duties they would be called upon to pronounce the law applicable to the case in judgment. They were not to decide merely 341*341 according to the laws or constitution of the state, but according to the constitution, laws and treaties of the United States — "the supreme law of the land." Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 340-1 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      Suppose a contract for the payment of money is made between citizens of the same state, and performance thereof is sought in the courts of that state; no person can doubt that the jurisdiction completely and exclusively attaches, in the first instance, to such courts. Suppose at the trial the defendant sets up in his defence a tender under a state law, making paper money a good tender, or a state law, impairing the obligation of such contract, which law, if binding, would defeat the suit. The constitution of the United States has declared that no state shall make anything but gold or silver coin a tender in payment of debts, or pass a law impairing the obligation of contracts. If congress shall not have passed a law providing for the removal of such a suit to the courts of the United States, must not the state court proceed to hear and determine it? Can a mere plea in defence be of itself a bar to further proceedings, so as to prohibit an inquiry into its truth or legal propriety, when no other tribunal exists to whom judicial cognizance of such cases is confided? Suppose an indictment for a crime in a state court, and the defendant should allege in his defence that the crime was created by an ex post facto act of the state, must not the state court, in the exercise of a jurisdiction which has already rightfully attached, have a 342*342 right to pronounce on the validity and sufficiency of the defence? It would be extremely difficult, upon any legal principles, to give a negative answer to these inquiries. Innumerable instances of the same sort might be stated, in illustration of the position; and unless the state courts could sustain jurisdiction in such cases, this clause of the sixth article would be without meaning or effect, and public mischiefs, of a most enormous magnitude, would inevitably ensue. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 341-2 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      It is a mistake that The Constitution Was Not Designed To Operate Upon States, In Their Corporate Capacities. It is crowded with provisions which restrain or annul the sovereignty of the states in some of the highest branches of their prerogatives. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 343 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      Surely, when such essential portions of state sovereignty are taken away, or prohibited to be exercised, it cannot be correctly asserted that the constitution does not act upon the states. The language of the constitution is also imperative upon the states as to the performance of many duties. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 343 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      When, therefore, the states are stripped of some of the highest attributes of sovereignty, and the same are given to the United States; when the legislatures of the states are, in some 344*344 respects, under the control of congress, and in every case are, under the constitution, bound by the paramount authority of the United States; it is certainly difficult to support the argument that the appellate power over the decisions of state courts is contrary to the genius of our institutions. The courts of the United States can, without question, revise the proceedings of the executive and legislative authorities of the states, and if they are found to be contrary to the constitution, may declare them to be of no legal validity. Surely the exercise of the same right over judicial tribunals is not a higher or more dangerous act of sovereign power. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 343-4 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      This power of removal is not to be found in express terms in any part of the constitution; if it be given, it is only given by implication, as a power necessary and proper to carry into effect some express power. The power of removal is certainly not, in strictness of language; it presupposes an exercise of original jurisdiction to have attached elsewhere. The existence of this power of removal is familiar in courts acting according to the course of the common law in criminal as well as civil cases, and it is exercised before as well as after judgment. But this is always deemed in both cases an exercise of appellate, and not of original jurisdiction. If, then, the right of removal be included in the appellate jurisdiction, it is only because it is one mode of exercising that power, and as congress is not limited by the constitution to any particular mode, or time of exercising it, it may authorize a removal either before or after judgment. The time, the process, and the manner, must be subject to its absolute legislative control. A writ of error is, indeed, but a process which removes the record of one court to the possession of another court, 350*350 and enables the latter to inspect the proceedings, and give such judgment as its own opinion of the law and justice of the case may warrant. There is nothing in the nature of the process which forbids it from being applied by the legislature to interlocutory as well as final judgments. And if the right of removal from state courts exist before judgment, because it is included in the appellate power, it must, for the same reason, exist after judgment. And if the appellate power by the constitution does not include cases pending in state courts, the right of removal, which is but a mode of exercising that power, cannot be applied to them. Precisely the same objections, therefore, exist as to the right of removal before judgment, as after, and both must stand or fall together. Nor, indeed, would the force of the arguments on either side materially vary, if the right of removal were an exercise of original jurisdiction. It would equally trench upon the jurisdiction and independence of state tribunals. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 349-50 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      S.Ct.’s Authority Comes in Part from Acquiescence:

      Acquiescence: the act or condition of acquiescing or giving tacit assent; agreement or consent by silence or without objection; compliance: Law. such neglect to take legal proceedings for such a long time as to imply the abandonment of a right.

       

      It is an historical fact, that at the time when the judiciary act was submitted to the deliberations of the first congress, composed, as it was, not only of men of great learning and ability, but of men who had acted a principal part in framing, supporting, or opposing that constitution, the same exposition was explicitly declared and admitted by the friends and by the opponents of that system. It 352*352 is an historical fact, that the supreme court of the United States have, from time to time, sustained this appellate jurisdiction in a great variety of cases, brought from the tribunals of many of the most important states in the union, and that no state tribunal has ever breathed a judicial doubt on the subject, or declined to obey the mandate of the supreme court, until the present occasion. This weight of contemporaneous exposition by all parties, this acquiescence of enlightened state courts, and these judicial decisions of the supreme court through so long a period, do, as we think, place the doctrine upon a foundation of authority which cannot be shaken, without delivering over the subject to perpetual and irremediable doubts. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 351-2 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

      A final judgment of this court is supposed to be conclusive upon the rights which it decides, and no statute has provided any process by which this court can revise its own judgments. In several cases which have been formerly adjudged in this court, the same point was argued by counsel, and expressly overruled. It was solemnly held that a final judgment of this court was conclusive upon the parties, and could not be re-examined. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304, 355 - Supreme Court 1816.

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

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    • Barry
      I just learned that the subject line of this post is incorrect. The actual quote reads: It is a mistake that the constitution was not designed to operate upon
      Message 2 of 2 , Jul 21 9:34 PM
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        I just learned that the subject line of this post is incorrect. The actual quote reads: "It is a mistake that the constitution was not designed to operate upon states, in their corporate capacities."


        > It is a mistake that The Constitution Was Not Designed To
        > Operate Upon States, In Their Corporate Capacities. It is
        > crowded with provisions which restrain or annul the
        > sovereignty of the states in some of the highest branches of
        > their prerogatives. Martin v. Hunter's Lessee
        > <http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=294912204140705
        > 6724&q=corporation+%22public+policy%22&hl=en&as_sdt=4,60&as_
        > ylo=1776&as_yhi=1850> , 14 US 304, 343 - Supreme Court 1816.
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