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Removal from State Courts.
OTHER parts of the judicial power are provided for as follows:
If a suit commenced in a state court against an alien, or by a citizen of the state in which a suit is brought against a citizen of another state; the defendant may have the benefit of the unbiassed judicatures of the United States, by removing the suit into the circuit court of the same district, provided it be done immediately, for the complainant ought not to suffer by the hesitation or delay of his opponent—but if the alien or citizen of another state has commenced the suit, he cannot afterwards remove it, for he is bound by his own election, nor can the defendant remove it, for he is not to be apprehensive of the injustice of the courts of his own state.
If there is a controversy in a state court respecting the title to land between two citizens of the same state, and either party shall make it appear to the court, that he claims and shall rely upon a right under a grant from a state other than that in which the suit is pending, and the other party claims under a grant from the last mentioned state, the party claiming under the grant first mentioned, whether plaintiff or defendant, may remove the suit to the circuit court for the same district, but neither party so removing the cause shall be allowed to plead or give evidence on the trial in the circuit court of any other title than that by him so stated as the ground of his claim. This is perfectly
consistent with the principle, that in all controversies the most impartial tribunal that can be formed, shall be selected, and the propriety of adopting this somewbat circuitous mode, instead of enabling the claimant under the grant of another state to bring his action at once in the United States court, arises from the juridical rule that the defendant, unless some express provision is made to compel bim, shall not at law be obliged to show on what title he relies, before the commencement of the trial. A citizen of another state or an alien, (in those cases where an alien may hold land,) is not obliged nor indeed allowed to adopt this course, because he may commence his suit in the United States courts or remove it there, as noticed before, immediately on its being commenced against him, and it is his own folly not to avail himself of this benefit in the first instance.
No other court of the United States than the Supreme Court can entertain a suit brought by a state, either against another state or against individuals. In this respect congress has no further legislated than to declare that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court shall be exclusive, except between a state and its citizens. This inference would indeed flow from the words of the constitution, which could never be so construed as to prevent a state from suing its own citizens, or those of other states, or aliens in its own courts. In regard to suits against states, they were unknown before the constitution, and since the amendment already adverted to, the only remaining class is above the jurisdiction of the circuit courts.
Jurisdiction by way of appeal or writ of error, according to the nature of the case, is given to the circuit from the district court, and to the supreme from the circuit court. But a pecuniary qualification is an
nexed both to the original and appellate jurisdiction in most cases. The district court has cognizance of all civil suits brought by the United States where the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, amounts to one hundred dollars. The original jurisdiction of the circuit court is described as applying to cases where the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, exceeds five hundred dollars. Yet it would seem, that if any súm exceeding three hundred dollars was found due, the court could sustain the jurisdiction, although the plaintiff would be liable to costs. To sustain the jurisdiction on a suit for the violation of a patent right, any sum, however small, that may be recovered is sufficient.
To sustain the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on writs of error, the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, must exceed two thousand dollars. There is perhaps too much disproportion in these sums, and there seems little reason for excluding a stranger or a citizen of another state from the benefit of a revision of the judgment, for any sum below five hundred. dollars. No pecuniary limit is adverted to in the constitution, and although there is weight in the suggestion that the dignity of a court is impaired by giving an ear to trifling controversies, yet the humblest suitor is entitled in some shape to relief; and the principle on which the classification of the subjects of judicial cognizance is founded, ought not to be impaired by a standard of value, which to a poor man may amount to a denial of justice.
Of the places in which the jurisdiction is to be exer
HAVING thus shown the subjects to which this jurisdiction extends, and the courts among which it is distributed, we shall proceed to consider the places in which it is to be exercised, and the rules and principles by which it is to be administered.
The geographical limits of the United States and those of the territories, are subject to the jurisdiction of all the courts of the United States, in all matters within the scope of their authority.
For the better administration of justice, the United States are divided into districts, in forming which the convenience of suitors is chiefly consulted. It has ever been a principle with us, to bring justice as much as possible home to the doors of the people. These districts may be altered at the pleasure of congress. The jurisdiction of the particular courts is of course confined to them. But some courts possessing only a special jurisdiction as to the subject, are without restriction as to the place. Such is the senate in respect to impeachments; both houses when acting judicially in respect to contempts and breaches of privileges, and courts martial.
The extent of the admiralty jurisdiction at sea has already been noticed.
In these the subjects are limited, but a general juris
diction appertains to the United States over ceded territories or districts.
If the land, at the time of cession, is uninhabited, except by the Indians, of whose polity we take no account, it is in the power of congress to make such regulations for its government as they may think proper. Whoever subsequently becomes an inhabitant, is of course bound to conform to the system which may be thus'established, if there be a number of civilized inhabitants previously settled there, enjoying the advantages of a particular code of laws, they have a just right to claim a continuance of those laws. Thus in the first cession of this kind, which was from the states of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Virginia, and formed what was termed the territory Northwest of the Ohio, there was a saving to the French and Canadian inhabitants, and other settlers of the Kaskaskias, St. Vincents, and the neighbouring villages, who had theretofore professed themselves citizens of Virginia, of the laws and customs then in force among them relative to the descent and conveyance of property, and in the treaty by which Louisiana was ceded to the United States in 1803, it was expressly stipulated that the inhabitants should retain their ancient laws and usages.
With these restrictions congress has always been considered as entitled not only to regulate the form of government, but also to reserve to themselves the approbation or rejection of such laws, as may be passed by the legislative power, which they may establish. In regulating the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio, which was the act of congress under the confederation, and which has been the model of most of the subsequent regulations of the same nature, it is declared that the governor and judges who, until