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very clause, which is urged to prove that the circuit court could give no judgment in the case, is also urged to prove that its judgment is irreversible. A supervising court, whose peculiar province it is to correct the errors of an inferior court, has no power to correct a judgment given without jurisdiction; because, in the same case, that supervising court has original jurisdiction. Had negative words been employed, it would be difficult to give them this construction, if they would admit of any other. But without negative words this irrational construction can never be maintained.
So, too, in the same clause, the jurisdiction of the court is declared to be original “in cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls.” There is, perhaps, no part of the article under consideration so much required by national policy as this ; unless it be that part which extends the judicial power “ to all cases arising under the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States.” It has been generally held that the state courts have a concurrent jurisdiction with the federal courts in cases to which the judicial power is extended, unless the jurisdiction of the federal courts be rendered exclusive by the words of the third article. If the words, “ to all cases,” give exclusive jurisdiction in cases affecting foreign ministers, they may also give exclusive jurisdiction, if such be the will of congress, in cases arising under the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States. Now suppose an individual were to sue a foreign minister in a state court, and that court were to maintain its jurisdiction, and render judgment against the minister, could it be contended that this court would be incapable of revising such judgment, because the constitution had given it original jurisdiction in the case? If this could be maintained, then a clause, inserted for the purpose of excluding the jurisdiction of all other courts than this, in a particular case, would have the effect of excluding the jurisdiction of this court in that very case, if the suit were to be brought in another court, and that court were to assert jurisdiction. This tribunal, according to the argument which has been urged, could neither
revise the judgment of such other court, nor suspend its proceedings; for a writ of prohibition, or any other similar writ, is in the nature of appellate process.
Foreign consuls frequently assert in our prize courts the claims of their fellow-subjects. These suits are maintained by them as consuls. The appellate power of this court has been frequently exercised in such cases, and has never been questioned. It would be extremely mischievous to withhold its exercise. Yet the consul is a party on the record. The truth is, that, where the words confer only appellate jurisdiction, original jurisdiction is most clearly not given; but where the words admit of appellate jurisdiction, the power to take cognizance of the suit originally does not necessarily negative the power to decide upon it on an appeal, if it may originate in a different court.
It is, we think, apparent, that to give this distributive clause the interpretation contended for, to give to its affirmative words a negative operation in every possible case, would in some instances defeat the obvious intention of the article. Such an interpretation would not consist with those rules which from time immemorial have guided courts, in their construction of instruments brought under their consideration. It must therefore be discarded. Every part of the article must be taken into view, and that construction adopted which will consist with its words and promote its general intention. The court may imply a negative from affirmative words, where the implication promotes, not where it defeats the intention.
If we apply this principle, the correctness of which we believe will not be controverted, to the distributive clause under consideration, the result, we think, would be this: the original jurisdiction of the supreme court, in cases where a state is a party, refers to those cases in which, according to the grant of power made in the preceding clause, jurisdiction might be exercised in consequence of the character of the party, and an original suit might be instituted in any of the federal courts ; not to those cases in which an original suit might not be instituted in a federal court. Of the last description is every case between a state and its citizens, and, perhaps, every case in which a state is enforcing its penal laws. In such cases, therefore, the supreme court cannot take original jurisdiction. In every other case, that is, in every case to which the judicial power extends, and in which original jurisdiction is not expressly given, that judicial power shall be exercised in the appellate, and only in the appellate form. The original jurisdiction of this court cannot be enlarged, but its appellate jurisdiction may be exercised in every case cognizable, under the third article of the constitution, in the federal courts, in which original jurisdiction cannot be exercised; and the extent of this judicial power is to be measured, not by giving the affirmative words of the distributive clause a negative operation in every possible case, but by giving their true meaning to the words which define its extent.
The counsel for the defendant in error urge, in opposition to this rule of construction, some dicta of the court in the case of Marbury v. Madison.
(It is a maxim not to be disregarded that general expressions, in every opinion, are to be taken in connexion with the case in which those expressions are used. If they go beyond the case, they may be respected, but ought not to control the judgment in a subsequent suit when the very point is presented for decision. The reason of this maxim is obvious. The question actually before the court is investigated with care, and considered in its full extent. Other principles which may serve to illustrate it are considered in their relation to the case decided, but their possible bearing on all other cases is seldom completely investigated.]
In the case of Marbury v. Madison, the single question before the court, so far as that case can be applied to this, was whether the legislature could give this court original jurisdiction in a case in which the constitution had clearly not given it, and in which no doubt respecting the construction of the article could possibly be raised. The court decided, and, we think, very properly, that the legislature could not give original jurisdiction in such a case. But in the reasoning of the court in support of this decision some expressions are used which go far beyond it. The counsel for Marbury had insisted on the unlimited discretion of the legislature in the apportionment of the judicial power; and it is against this argument that the reasoning of the court is directed. They say, that, if such had been the intention of the article, " it would certainly have been useless to proceed farther than to define the judicial power, and the tribunals in which it should be vested.” The court says that such a construction would render the clause, dividing the jurisdiction of the court into original and appellate, totally useless ; that " affirmative words are often, in their operation, negative of other objects than those which are affirmed; and in this case (in the case of Marbury v. Madison) a negative or exclusive sense must be given to them, or they have no operation at all.” “ It cannot be presumed," adds the court, “ that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect; and therefore such a construction is inadmissible, unless the words require it.”
The whole reasoning of the court proceeds upon the idea that the affirmative words of the clause, giving one sort of jurisdiction, must imply a negative of any other sort of jurisdiction, because otherwise the words would be totally inoperative; and this reasoning is advanced in a case to which it was strictly applicable. If in that case original jurisdiction could have been exercised, the clause under consideration would have been entirely useless. Having such cases only in its view, the court lays down a principle which is generally correct, in terms much broader than the decision, and not only much broader than the reasoning with which that decision is supported, but in some instances contradictory to its principle. The reasoning sustains the negative operation of the words in that case, because otherwise the clause would have no meaning whatever, and because such operation was necessary to give effect to the intention of the article. The effort now made is, to apply the conclusion to which the court was conducted by that reasoning
in the particular case, to one in which the words have their full operation when understood affirmatively, and in which the negative or exclusive sense is to be so used as to defeat some of the great objects of the article.
To this construction, the court cannot give its assent. The general expressions in the case of Marbury v. Madison must be understood with the limitations which are given to them in this opinion ; limitations which in no degree affect the decision in that case, or the tenor of its reasoning.
The counsel who closed the argument put several cases for the purpose of illustration, which he supposed to arise under the constitution, and yet to be apparently without the jurisdiction of the court.
Were a state to lay a duty on exports, to collect the money and place it in her treasury, could the citizen who paid it, he asks, maintain a suit in this court against such state, to recover back the money ?
Perhaps not. Without, however, deciding such supposed case, we may say that it is entirely unlike that under consideration.
The citizen who has paid his money to his state under a law that is void is in the same situation with every other person who has paid money by mistake. The law raises an assumpsit to return the money, and it is upon that assumpsit that the action is to be maintained. To refuse to comply with this assumpsit may be no more a violation of the constitution than to refuse to comply with any other; and as the federal courts never had jurisdiction over contracts between a state and its citizens, they may have none over this. But let us so vary the supposed case as to give it a real resemblance to that under consideration. Suppose a citizen to refuse to pay this export duty, and a suit to be instituted for the purpose of compelling him to pay it. He pleads the constitution of the United States in bar of the action, notwithstanding which the court gives judgment against him. This would be a case arising under the constitution, and would be the very case now before the court.