MR. CHIEF JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent, a resident of the northern district of Mississippi, brought this suit in the district court for that district against petitioner, a Delaware corporation having
The district court granted petitioner's motion to dismiss the suit on the ground that the venue was not properly laid in the northern district. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed, 149 F.2d 138, holding that as there was diversity of citizenship and as the amount in controversy exceeded $3,000, the district court for the northern district had jurisdiction, that the venue was properly laid there under the provisions of § 51 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 112, and that service of summons in the southern district was authorized by Rule 4 (f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. We granted certiorari, 326 U.S. 702.
The present case being of a civil nature, the amount in controversy exceeding $3,000, and the parties being of diverse citizenship, the district court had jurisdiction of
Since there was jurisdiction of the present suit on the sole ground of diversity of citizenship and since the suit was brought in the district of the plaintiff's residence, as found by both courts below, there was, by § 51 of the Judicial Code, no want of venue and the court was not warranted in dismissing the suit if the service of summons was effective to make the defendant a party. Neirbo Co. v. Bethlehem Corp., 308 U.S. 165, on which petitioner relies, supports no different conclusion. There the sole ground of jurisdiction was diversity of citizenship of the parties. The foreign corporation was sued in the district court for southern New York, in which neither the plaintiff nor the defendant was a citizen or resident,
Unlike the consent to service in the Neirbo case the consent to service of process on petitioner's agent throughout the state was not significant as a waiver of venue, but it was an essential step in the procedure by which petitioner was brought before the court and rendered amenable to its judgment in the northern district. By consenting to service of process upon its agent residing in the southern district, petitioner rendered itself "present" there for purposes of service. See Ex parte Schollenberger, supra, 377; cf. International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310. Had Congress specifically authorized service there for purposes of suit in the northern district, petitioner would have been properly brought before the district court for the purposes of the present suit, since Congress could provide for service of process anywhere in the United States. Toland v. Sprague, 12 Pet. 300, 328; United States v. Union Pacific R. Co., 98 U.S. 569, 604; Robertson v. Railroad Labor Board, 268 U.S. 619, 622.
It is said that petitioner, by appointing an agent to receive service, has only consented to service of process in suits brought in the state courts and in conformity to state statutes regulating the venue, and that in any case Rule 4 (f) was adopted without authority since the Act of June 19, 1934, 48 Stat. 1064, 28 U.S.C. § 723b, which authorized the promulgation of rules of practice for the district courts, directed that they "shall neither abridge, enlarge, nor modify the substantive rights of any litigant," and because the construction given to Rule 4 (f) by the court below is inconsistent with Rule 82 which provides that the rules "shall not be construed to extend or limit the jurisdiction of the district courts of the United States or the venue of actions therein."
The answer to the suggestion that the consent to suit in the state is a consent to suit only in the state courts and subject to state statutes regulating venue in those courts is plain. Such consent has been uniformly construed to mean suits within the state which apply the law of the state, whether they be state or federal courts. See Neirbo Co. v. Bethlehem Corp., supra, 171; cf. Ex parte Schollenberger, supra, 377; Madisonville Traction Co. v. Mining Co., 196 U.S. 239, 255-256; Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Chatters, 279 U.S. 320, 329. And since
The question remains whether Rule 4 (f) is an effective means of bringing the petitioner before the district court in the northern district where the suit was properly brought in conformity to § 51 of the Judicial Code. The fact that this Court promulgated the rules as formulated and recommended by the Advisory Committee does not foreclose consideration of their validity, meaning or consistency. But in ascertaining their meaning the construction given to them by the Committee is of weight. Rule 4 (f), as explained by the authorized spokesmen for the Advisory Committee, see Proceedings of Washington and New York Institute on Federal Rules, 291, 292; Proceedings of The Cleveland Institute on the Federal Rules, 205, 206, was devised so as to permit service of process anywhere within a state in which the district court issuing the process is held and where the state embraces two or more districts. It was adopted with particular reference to suits against a foreign corporation having an agent to receive service of process resident in a district within the state other than that in which the suit is brought. It was pointed out that the rule did not affect the jurisdiction or venue of the district court as fixed by the statute, but was intended among other things to provide a procedural means of bringing the corporation defendant before the court in conformity to its consent, by serving the agent wherever he might be found within the state. See also Hughes, Federal Practice, Vol. 17, § 18993; Moore, Federal Practice, Vol. 1, p. 360-361.
It is true that the service of summons is the procedure by which a court having venue and jurisdiction of the subject matter of the suit asserts jurisdiction over the
We think that Rule 4 (f) is in harmony with the Enabling Act which, in authorizing this Court to prescribe general rules for the district courts governing practice and procedure in civil suits in law and equity, directed that the rules "shall neither abridge, enlarge, nor modify the substantive rights of any litigant." Undoubtedly most alterations of the rules of practice and procedure may and often do affect the rights of litigants. Congress' prohibition of any alteration of substantive rights of litigants was obviously not addressed to such incidental effects as necessarily attend the adoption of the prescribed new rules of procedure upon the rights of litigants who, agreeably to rules of practice and procedure, have been brought before a court authorized to determine their rights. Sibbach v. Wilson & Co., 312 U.S. 1, 11-14. The fact that the application of Rule 4 (f) will operate to subject
The judgment is
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.