Art. III., sec. 2, of the Constitution provides that the judicial power of the United States shall extend to "controversies between two or more States," and "between a State and citizens of another State." By the same article and section it is also provided that in cases "in which a State shall be a party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction." By the Judiciary Act of 1789, c. 20, sec. 13, 1 Stat. 80, the Supreme Court was given "exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies of a civil nature, where a State is a party, except between a State and its citizens; and except also between a State and citizens of other States, or aliens, in which latter case it shall have original but not exclusive jurisdiction."
Such being the condition of the law, Alexander Chisholm, as executor of Robert Farquar, commenced an action of assumpsit in this court against the State of Georgia, and process was served on the governor and attorney-general. Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419. On the 11th of August, 1792, after the process was thus served on Mr. Randolph, the attorney-general of the United States, as counsel for the plaintiff, moved for a judgment by default on the fourth day of the next term, unless the State should then, after notice, show cause to the contrary. At the next term Mr. Ingersoll and Mr. Dallas presented a written remonstrance and protestation on behalf of the State against the exercise of jurisdiction, but in consequence of positive instructions they declined to argue the question. Mr. Randolph, thereupon, proceeded alone, and in opening his argument said, "I did not want the remonstrance of Georgia, to satisfy me that the motion which I have made is unpopular. Before the remonstrance was read, I had learnt from the acts of another State, whose will must always be dear to me, that she too condemned it."
On the 19th of February, 1793, the judgment of the court was announced, and the jurisdiction sustained, four of the justices being in favor of granting the motion and one against it. All the justices who heard the case filed opinions, some of which were very elaborate, and it is evident the subject received
"Another declared object (of the Constitution) is, `to establish justice.' This points, in a particular manner, to the judicial authority. And when we view this object in conjunction with the declaration, `that no State shall pass a law impairing the obligation of contracts,' we shall probably think, that this object points, in a particular manner, to the jurisdiction of the court over the several States. What good purpose could this constitutional provision secure, if a State might pass a law impairing the obligation of its own contracts; and be amenable for such a violation of right, to no controlling judiciary power?"
And Chief Justice Jay, p. 479:
"The extension of the judiciary power of the United States to such controversies, appears to me to be wise, because it is honest, and because it is useful. It is honest, because it provides for doing justice without respect to persons, and by securing individual citizens, as well as States, in their respective rights, performs the promise which every government makes to every free citizen, of equal justice and protection. It is useful, because it is honest, because it leaves not even the most obscure and friendless citizen without meàns of obtaining justice from a neighboring State; because it obviates occasions of quarrels between States on account of the claims of their respective citizens; because it recognizes and strongly rests on this great moral truth, that justice is the same whether due from one man or a million, or from a million to one man; because it teaches and greatly appreciates the value of our free republican national government, which places all our citizens on an equal footing, and enables each and every of them to obtain justice without any danger of being overborne with the might and number of their opponents; and because it brings into action, and enforces the great and glorious principle, that the people are the sovereign of this country, and consequently that fellow citizens and joint sovereigns cannot be degraded by appearing with each other in their own courts to have their controversies determined."
Prior to this decision the public discussions had been confined
"The judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another State, or by citizens and subjects of any foreign State."
Under the operation of this amendment the actual owners of the bonds and coupons held by New Hampshire and New York are precluded from prosecuting these suits in their own names. The real question, therefore, is whether they can sue in the name of their respective States, after getting the consent of the State, or, to put it in another way, whether a State can allow the use of its name in such a suit for the benefit of one of its citizens.
The language of the amendment is, in effect, that the judicial power of the United States shall not extend to any suit commenced or prosecuted by citizens of one State against another
In New York no special provision is made for compromise or the employment of additional counsel, but the bondholder is required to secure and pay all expenses and gets all the money that is recovered. This State, as well as New Hampshire, is nothing more nor less than a mere collecting agent of the owners of the bonds and coupons, and while the suits are in the names of the States, they are under the actual control of individual citizens, and are prosecuted and carried on altogether by and for them.
It is contended, however, that, notwithstanding the prohibition of the amendment, the States may prosecute the suits, because, as the "sovereign and trustee of its citizens," a State is
All the rights of the States as independent nations were surrendered to the United States. The States are not nations, either as between themselves or towards foreign nations. They are sovereign within their spheres, but their sovereignty stops short of nationality. Their political status at home and abroad is that of States in the United States. They can neither make war nor peace without the consent of the national government. Neither can they, except with like consent, "enter into any agreement or compact with another State." Art. 1, sec. 10, cl. 3.
But it is said that, even if a State, as sovereign trustee for its citizens, did surrender to the national government its power of prosecuting the claims of its citizens against another State by force, it got in lieu the constitutional right of suit in the national courts. There is no principle of international law which makes it the duty of one nation to assume the collection of the claims of its citizens against another nation, if the citizens themselves have ample means of redress without the intervention of their government. Indeed, Sir Robert Phillimore says, in his Commentaries on International law, vol. II., 2d ed., page 12:
"As a general rule, the proposition of Martens seems to be correct, that the foreigner can only claim to be put on the same footing as the native creditor of the State."
Whether this be in all respects true or not, it is clear that no nation ought to interfere, except under very extraordinary circumstances,
The bill in each case is dismissed.