Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

The State of Georgia v. Brailsford. 2 D. France, against Mr. Robert Morris, in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Under these impressions, I am disposed to think that the State of Georgia ought rather to have sued out a writ of error, than to have asked for an injunction. But still, in the existing * circumstances of the case, I have no objection to retain the money [ *408 ] within the power of the Court, till we can better satisfy ourselves both as to the remedy and the right.

CUSHING, J. The Judicial Act expressly declares, that “suits in equity shall not be sustained in either of the courts of the United States, in any case where plain, adequate, and complete remedy may be had at law.” 1 Now, if Georgia has any right to the debt in question, it is a right at law, for which, of course, the law will furnish a plain, adequate, and complete remedy. The decision of the Circuit Court, in a case to which Georgia was neither party nor privy, did not, and could not, take away either the right or the remedy of the State. Nor can Spalding, the defendant below, be made liable twice, for the same debt, without his wilful laches. For it is in his power to bring a writ of error; and then the whole merits of the claim of Georgia appearing on the record, we must decide it as a question of law, either by affirming or reversing the judgment, so as to bind us in any suit which Georgia might institute for the same cause.

Besides, the State of Georgia, notwithstanding the judgment of the Circuit Court, may bring an action of indebitatus assumpsit against Brailsford, who is a man of fortune, after they have received the money, upon the principle of Moses v. Macfarlan, 2 Bur. 1005, and with stronger reason; as in that case the parties in both courts were the same; but, in the case proposed, they would be different, and one of them has never been heard. In some form, therefore, Georgia may obtain complete redress at law.

I do not, upon the whole, consider the refusal of Spalding to bring a writ of error, which he is not compellable to bring, nor any other suggestion in the bill, as a sufficient foundation for exercising the equitable jurisdiction of the Court; and, consequently, I think that an injunction ought not to be awarded.

Jay, C. J. My first ideas were unfavorable to the motion; but many reasons have been urged, which operate forcibly to produce a change of opinion.

The great question turns on the property of a certain bond ; — whether it belongs to Brailsford, or to Georgia ? It is put in suit by Brailsford; but if Georgia, by virtue of the Confiscation Act, is really

11 Stats. at Large, 73.

Hayburn's Case. 2 D.

entitled to the debt, she is entitled to the money, though the evidence of the debt happened to be in the possession of Brailsford, and though Brailsford has, by that means, obtained a judgment for the amount. Then the only point to be considered is - whether, under these

circumstances, it is not equitable to stay the money in the [ *409 ] *hands of the marshal, 'till the right to it is fairly decided;

and so avoid the risk of putting the true owner to a suit, for the purpose of recovering it back ?

For my part, I think that the money should remain in the custody of the law, till the law has adjudged to whom it belongs; and therefore, I am content that the injunction issue.

An injunction granted. 2 D. 419; 1 P. 110; 5 P. 284; 2 H. 9 ; 9 H. 10.

HAYBURN'S CASE.

2 D. 409.

Motion for mandamus to Circuit Court for Pennsylvania, to proceed under Pension Act.

This was a motion for a mandamus to be directed to the Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania, commanding the said Court to proceed in a certain petition of William Hayburn, who had applied to be put on the pension list of the United States, as an invalid pensioner.

The principal case arose upon the act of Congress passed the 23d of March, 1792. (1 U. S. St. at Large 243.)

The Attorney-General, Randolph, who made the motion for the mandamus, having premised that it was done ex officio, without an application from any particular person, but with a view to procure the execution of an act of Congress, particularly interesting to a meritorious and unfortunate class of citizens, the Court declared that they entertained great doubt upon his right, under such circumstances, and in a case of this kind, to proceed ex officio; and directed him to state the principles on which he attempted to support the right. The Attorney-General, accordingly, entered into an elaborate description of the powers and duties of his office:

But the Court being divided in opinion on that question, the motion, made ex officio, was not allowed.

The Attorney-General then changed the ground of his interposition, declaring it to be at the instance, and on behalf of Hayburn, a party

Hayburn's Case. 2 D. interested; and he entered into the merits of the case, upon the act of Congress, and the refusal of the Judges to carry it into effect.

The Court observed, that they would hold the motion under advisement, until the next term; but no decision was ever pronounced, as the Legislature, at an * intermediate session, [ *410 ] provided in another way for the relief of the pensioners.

Rule. 13 H. 40.

1 See an act passed the 28th February, 1793. (1 U. S. St. at Large 325.) As the reasons assigned by the Judges, for declining to execute the first act of Congress, involve a great Constitutional question, it will not be thought improper to subjoin them in illustration of Hayburn's case.

The Circuit Court for the District of New York, consisting of Jay, Chief Justice, Cushing, Justice, and Duane, District Judge, proceeded on the 5th of April, 1791, to take into consideration the act of Congress entitled “ An act to provide for the settlement of the claims of widows and orphans barred by the limitations heretofore established, and to regulate the claims to invalid pensions ;” and were, thereupon, unanimously of opinion and agreed:

“ That by the Constitution of the United States, the government thereof is divided into three distinct and independent branches, and that it is the duty of each to abstain from, and to oppose encroachments on either.

“ That neither the Legislative nor the Executive branches can, constitutionally, assign to the Judicial any duties, but such as are properly judicial, and to be performed in a judicial manner.

“That the duties assigned to the Circuit Courts, by this act, are not of that description, and that the act itself does not appear to contemplate them as such ; inasmuch as it subjects the decisions of these courts, made pursuant to those duties, first to the consideration and suspension of the Secretary at War, and then to the revision of the Legislature; whereas by the Constitution, neither the Secretary at War, nor any other Executive officer, nor even the Legislature, are authorized to sit as a Court of Errors on the judicial acts or opinions of this Court.

“ As therefore the business assigned to this Court, by the act, is not judicial, nor directed to be performed judicially, the act can only be considered as appointing commissioners for the purposes mentioned in it, by official, instead of personal descriptions.

“ That the Judges of this Court regard themselves as being the commissioners designated by the act, and therefore as being at liberty to accept or decline that office.

“That as the objects of this act are exceedingly benevolent, and do real honor to the humanity and justice of Congress; and as the Judges desire to manifest, on all proper occasions and in every proper manner, their high respect for the National Legislature, they will execute this act in the capacity of commissioners. * “ That as the Legislature have a right to extend the session of this Court for any term, which they may think proper by law to assign, the term of five days, as directed by this act, ought to be punctually observed.

“ That the Judges of this Court will as usual, during the session thereof, adjourn the court from day to day, or other short periods, as circumstances may render proper, and that they will, regularly, between the adjournments, proceed as commissioners to execute the business of this act in the same court room, or chamber.”

The Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania, consisting of Wilson, and Blair, Justices, and Peters, District Judge, made the following representation, in a letter jointly addressed to the President of the United States, on the 18th of April, 1792.

Hayburn's Case. 2 D. “ To you it officially belongs to take care that the laws of the United States.be faithfully executed.' Before you, therefore, we think it our duty to lay the sentiments which, on a late painful occasion, governed us with regard to an act passed by the Legislature of the Union.

“ The people of the United States have vested in Congress all legislative powers granted in the Constitution.'

“ They have vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress shall establish, “the judicial power of the United States.'

" It is worthy of remark, that in Congress the whole legislative power of the United States is not vested. An important part of that power was exercised by the people themselves, when they ordained and established the Constitution.'

“ This Constitution is the supreme law of the land.' This supreme law all judicial officers of the United States are bound, by oath or affirmation, to support.”

"It is a principle important to freedom, that in government, the Judicial should be distinct from, and independent of, the Legislative department. To this important principle the people of the United States, in forming their Constitution, have manifested the highest regard.

“ They have placed their Judicial power not in Congress, but in “Courts. They have ordained that the Judges of those courts shall hold their offices during good behavior;' and that, during their continuance in office, their salaries shall not be diminished.'

“ Congress have lately passed an act to regulate, among other things, 'the claims to invalid pensions.'

“ Upon due consideration, we have been unanimously of opinion, that under this act, the Circuit Court held for the Pennsylvania District could not proceed:

“ 1st. Because the business directed by this act is not of a judicial nature. It forms no part of the power vested by the Constitution in the courts of the United States ; the Circuit Court must consequently have proceeded without constitutional authority.

“ 2d. Because, if upon that business, the court had proceeded, its judgments, for its opinions are its judgments, might, under the same act, have been revised and controlled by the Legislature, and by an officer in the Executive department. Such revision and control we deemed radically inconsistent with the independence of that judicial power which is vested in the courts; and, consequently, with that important principle which is so strictly observed by the Constitution of the United States.

“ These, Sir, are the reasons of our conduct. Be assured that though it became necessary, it was far from being pleasant. To be obliged to act contrary, either to the obvious directions of Congress, or to a constitutional principle in our judgment equally obvious, excited feelings in us, which we hope never to experience again."

The Circuit Court for the District of North Carolina, (consisting of Iredell, Justice, and Sitgreaves, District Judge,) made the following representation in a letter jointly addressed to the President of the United States, on the 8th of June, 1792.

“We, the Judges, now attending at the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of North Carolina, conceive it our duty to lay before you some important observations which have occurred to us in the consideration of an act of Congress lately passed, entitled "An act to provide for the settlement of the claims of widows and orphans barred by the limitations heretofore established, and to regulate the claims to invalid pensions.'

“We beg leave to premise, that it is as much our inclination, as it is our duty, to receive with all possible respect every act of the Legislature, and that we never can find ourselves in a more painful situation than to be obliged to object to the execution of any, more especially to the execution of one founded on the purest principles of humanity and justice, which the act in question undoubtedly is. But however lament

Hayburn's Case. 2 D. able a difference in opinion really may be, or with whatever difficulty we may have formed an opinion, we are under the indispensable necessity of acting according to the best dictates of our own judgment, after duly weighing every consideration that can occur to us; which we have done on the present occasion.

“The extreme importance of the case, and our desire of being explicit beyond the danger of being misunderstood, will, we hope, justify us in stating our observations in a systematic manner. We therefore, Sir, submit to you the following:

“1. That the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Departments are each formed in a separate and independent manner; and that the ultimate basis of each is the Constitution only, within the limits of which each department can alone justify any act of authority.

“ 2. That the Legislature, among other important powers, unquestionably possess that of establishing courts in such a manner as, to their wisdom, shall appear best limited by the terms of the Constitution only; and to whatever extent that power may be exercised, or however severe the duty they may think proper to require, the Judges, when appointed in virtue of any such establishment, owe implicit and unreserved obedience to it.

“ 3. That at the same time such courts cannot be warranted, as we conceive, by virtue of that part of the Constitution delegating judicial power, for the exercise of which any act of the Legislature is provided in exercising, even under the authority of another act, any power not in its nature judicial, or if judicial, not provided for upon the terms the Constitution requires.

* 4. That whatever doubt may be suggested, whether the power in question is pro perly of a judicial nature, yet inasmuch as the decision of the Court is not made final, but may be at least suspended in its operation by the Secretary at War, if he shall have cause to suspect imposition or mistake; this subjects the decision of the court to a mode of revision which we consider to be unwarranted by the Constitution ; for, though Congress may certainly establish, in instances not yet provided for, courts of appellate jurisdiction, yet such courts must consist of Judges appointed in the manner the Constitution requires, and holding their offices by no other tenure than that of their good behavior, by which tenure the office of Secretary at War is not held. And we beg leave to add, with all due deference, that no decision of any court of the United States can, under any circumstances, in our opinion, agreeable to the Constitution, be liable to a reversion, or even suspension, by the Legislature itself, in whom no judicial power of any kind appears to be vested, but the important one relative to impeachments.

“ These, Sir, are our reasons for being of opinion, as we are at present, that this Circuit Court cannot be justified in the execution of that part of the act which requires it to examine and report an opinion on the unfortunate cases of officers and soldiers disabled in the service of the United States. The part of the act requiring the Court to sit five days, for the purpose of receiving applications from such persons, we shall deem it our duty to comply with ; for whether in our opinion such purpose can or cannot be answered, it is, as we conceive, our indispensable duty to keep open any court of which we have the honor to be Judges, as long as Congress shall direct.

“The high respect we entertain for the Legislature, our feelings as men for persons whose situation requires the earliest, as well as the most effectual relief, and our sincere desire to promote, whether officially or otherwise, the just and benevolent views of Congress, so conspicuous on the present as well as on many other occasions, have induced us to reflect, whether we could be justified in acting, under this act, personally in the character of commissioners during the session of a court; and could we be satisfied that we had authority to do so, we would cheerfully devote such part of our time as might be necessary for the performance of the service. But we confess

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »