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(1.) The Supreme Court was instituted by the constitution, which ordained that the judicial power of the United States should be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as Congress might, from time to time, ordain and establish. But it received its present organization from Congress, for the constitution had only declared, in general terms, that there should be a Supreme Court, with certain original and appellate powers. It consists of a chief justice, and six associate justices, any four of whom make a quorum; and it holds one term annually, at the seat of government, commencing on the second Monday in January. But though four of the judges are requisite for business in general, yet any one or more of them may make all necessary orders in a suit, preparatory to the hearing or trial, and continue the court, from day to day, in the absence of a quorum; and the judge of the fourth circuit attends at the city of Washington, on the first Monday of August, annually, for interlocutory matters.
The Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies of a civil nature, where a state is a party, except in suits by a state against one or more of its citizens, or against citizens of other states, or aliens, in which cases it has original, but not exclusive jurisdiction. It has also, exclusively, all such jurisdiction of suits, or proceedings against ambassadors, or other public ministers, or their domestics, or domestic servants, as a court of law can have or exercise, consistently with the law of nations; and original, but not exclusive jurisdiction, of all suits brought by ambassadors or other public ministers, or in which a consul or vice-consul shall be a party. The Supreme Court was also clothed by the constitution" with appellate jurisdiction,
a Art. 3. sec. 1.
b Acts of Congress of 29th April, 1802, February 24th, 1807, sec. 5, 4th May, 1826, and 21st January, 1829, sec. 1, 2.
c Act of Congress, September 24th, 1789, sec. 13.
under such exceptions and regulations as Congress should prescribe; and, by the judiciary act of 1789, appeals lie to this court from the Circuit Courts, and the courts of the several states. Final judgments and decrees, in civil actions, and suits in equity in the Circuit Courts of the United States, whether brought there by original process, or removed there from the state courts, or by appeal from the District Courts, in cases where the matter in dispute exceeds 2,000 dollars, exclusive of costs, may be re-examined, by writ of error, and reversed or affirmed, in the Supreme Court. Final judgments and decrees in the Circuit Courts, in cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and of prize or no prize, where the matter in dispute exceeds 2,000 dollars, exclusive of costs, may be reviewed on appeal in the Supreme Court; and in admiralty and prize cases, new evidence is admitted. to be receivable on appeal in the Supreme Court. This admission is conformable to the doctrine and usage of appellate courts of admiralty, permitting the parties, upon the appeal, to introduce new allegations and new proofs, and to add new counts to the libel. So, also, a final judgment or decree in any suit in the highest court of law or equity of a state, may be brought up on error in point of law, to the Supreme Court of the United States, provided the validity of a treaty, or statute of, or authority exercised under the United States, was drawn in question in the state court, and the decision was against that validity; or provided the validity of any state authority was drawn in question, on the ground of its being repugnant to the constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, and the decision was in favour of its validity; or provided the construction of any clause of the constitution, or of a treaty, or statute of, or commission held under the United States, was drawn in question, and the decision was against the title, right, privilege, or
a Act of 1789, sec. 22.
b Act of Congress, March 2d, 1803, sec. 11.
c The Marianna Flora, 11 Wheaton, 38.
exemption, specially claimed under the authority of the Union. Upon error from a decision in a state court, no other error can be assigned or regarded, than such as appears upon the face of the record, and immediately respects the questions of validity, or construction of the constitution, treaties, statutes, commissions, or authorities in dispute.
The Supreme Court is also armed with that superintending authority over the inferior courts, which ought to be deposited in the highest tribunal and dernier resort of the people of the United States. It has power to issue writs of prohibition to the District Courts, when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and to issue writs of mandamus, in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts appointed, or persons holding office under the authority of the United States. This court, and each of its judges, have power to grant writs of ne exeat and of injunction, but the former writ cannot be granted unless a suit in equity be commenced, and satisfactory proof be made that the party designs quickly to leave the United States; and no injunction can be granted to stay proceedings in a state court, nor in any case, without reasonable notice to the adverse party. All the courts of the United States have power to issue writs of scire facias, habeas corpus, and all other writs not specially provided by statute, which may be necessary for the exercise of their respective jurisdictions, and agreeable to the principles and usages of law. So the judges of the Supreme Court, as
a Act of September 24th, 1789, sec. 25.
b Act of 24th September, 1789, sec. 13.
e Act of Congress, March 2d, 1793, sec. 5.
d Act of 24th of September, 1789, sec. 14. The Judiciary Act, of 1789, sec. 17, gave to the courts of the United States power to punish, by fine or imprisonment, at the discretion of the courts, all contempts of authority, in any cause or hearing, before the same. But the act of Congress, of March 2d, 1831, sec. 48, limited and defined this
well as the judges of the District Courts, may, by habeas corpus, relieve the citizens from all manner of unjust imprisonment occurring under or by colour of the authority of the United States."
(2.) The Circuit Courts are established in each district (with one or two exceptions) of the seven great circuits into which the United States are divided. The first circuit is
composed of the districts of Maine, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; the second circuit, of the districts of Connecticut, Vermont, and the southern district of New-York; the third circuit, of the district of New-Jersey, and the eastern district of Pennsylvania; the fourth circuit, of the districts of Maryland and Delaware; the fifth circuit, of the district of North Carolina, and the eastern district of Virginia; the sixth circuit, of the districts of South Carolina and Georgia; and the seventh circuit, of the districts of Kentucky, East and West Tennessee, and Ohio. In each district of these circuits, two Circuit Courts are annually held by one of the judges of the Supreme Court and the district judge of the district; but the Supreme Court may, in cases where special circumstances shall in their judgment render the same necessary, assign two of the judges of the Supreme Court to attend a Circuit Court, and when the district judge shall be absent, or shall have been counsel, or be interested in the cause, the Circuit Court may consist only of a judge of the Supreme Court." These circuits do not
power, by declaring that the power to issue attachments, and inflict summary punishments, for contempt of court, shall not be construed to extend to any cases except the misbehaviour of any person in the presence of the court, or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice; and the misbehaviour of any of the officers of the said courts in their official transactions; and the disobedience, or resistance, by any officer of the said courts, party, juror, witness, or any other person, to any lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree, or command of the said courts.
a Act of 24th September, 1789, sec. 14.
b Acts of March 2, 1793, sec. 1. April 29th, 1802, sec. 4. February 24th, 1807, sec. 2. March 22d, 1808, sec. 1. March 30th, 1820, sec. 1.
include the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, the northern district of NewYork, the western district of Pennsylvania, and the western district of Virginia. The want of Circuit Courts in those parts of the Union is supplied by the grant of the powers and jurisdiction of Circuit Courts to the District Courts."
These Circuit Courts, thus organized, are vested with original cognizance, concurrent with the courts of the several states, of all suits of a civil nature at common law or in equity, where the matter in dispute exceeds 500 dollars, exclusive of costs, and the United States are plaintiffs, or an alien is a party, or the suit is between a citizen of the state where the suit is brought, and a citizen of another state. They have likewise exclusive cognizance, except in certain cases which will be hereafter mentioned, of all crimes and offences cognizable under the authority of the United States, exceeding the degree of ordinary misdemeanors, and of them they have concurrent jurisdiction with the District Courts. But no person can be arrested in one district for trial in another, and no civil suit can be brought against an inhabitant of the United States out of his district; and the act of Congress provides against the assumption of federal jurisdiction to be created by the assignment of promissory notes, or other choses in action, except foreign bills of exchange. The Circuit Court have also appellate jurisdiction from all final decrees and judgments in the District Courts, where the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, exceeds 50 dollars. If the remedy be on final decrees in the District Courts, in cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, it is by appeal; and if on final judgments in civil actions, it is by writ of error. And if any suit be commenced
a Act of Congress, February 9, 1831.
The damages laid in the declaration, if they exceed $500, give the jurisdiction as to the matter in dispute. Muns v. Dupont, 2 Wash.
Cir. R. 463.
e Act of September 28th, 1739, sec. 11. 21, 22. Act of 3d March, 1808, sec. 11.