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nothing inconsistent with sound reason, or incompatible with the nature of government, in making all its departments supreme, so far as respects those objects, and so far as is necessary to their attainment. The exercise of the appellate power over those judgments of the state tribunals which may contravene the constitution or laws of the United States, is essential to the attainment of those objects.
“ The propriety of entrusting the construction of the constitution, and laws made in pursuance thereof, to the judiciary of the Union, has not, as yet, been drawn into question. It seems to be a corollary from this political axiom, that the federal courts should either possess exclusive jurisdiction in such cases, or a power to revise the judgment rendered in them by the state tribunals. If the federal and state courts have concurrent jurisdiction in all cases arising under the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States; and if a case of this description, brought in a state court, cannot be removed before judgment, nor revised after judgment, then the construction of the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States, is not confided particularly to their judicial department, but is confided equally to that department, and to the state courts, however they may be constituted. *Thirteen independent courts,' says a very celebrated statesman, (and we have now more than twenty such courts,) of final jurisdiction over the same causes, arising upon the same laws, is a hydra in government, from which nothing but contradiction and confusion can proceed.'
“ Dismissing the unpleasant suggestion, that any motives which may not be fairly avowed, or which ought not to exist, can ever influence a state or its courts; the necessity of uniformity, as well as correctness in expounding the constitution and laws of the United
States, would itself suggest the propriety of vesting in some single tribunal, the power of deciding in the last resort, all the cases in which they are involved.
“We are not restrained, then, by the political relations between the general and state governments, from construing the words of the constitution, defining the judicial power, in their true sense. We are not bound, to construe them more restrictively than they naturally import.
“ They give to the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction, in all cases arising under the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States. The words are broad enough to comprehend all cases of this description, in whatever court they may be decided. In expounding them, we may be permitted to take into view, those considerations to which courts have always allowed great weight in the exposition of laws.
" The framers of the constitution would naturally examine the state of things existing at the time; and their work sufficiently attests that they did so. All acknowledge that they were convened for the purpose of strengthening the confederation by enlarging the powers of the government, and by giving efficacy to those which it before possessed, but could not exercise. They inform us themselves, in the instrument they presented to the American public, that one of its objects was to form a more perfect union. Under such circumstances, we certainly should not expect to find, in that instrument, a diminution of the powers of the actual government.
“ Previous to the adoption of the confederation, congress established courts which received appeals in prize causes decided in the courts of the respective states. This power of the government, to establish tribunals for these appeals, was thought consistent with, and was
founded on, its political relations with the states. These courts exercised appellate jurisdiction over those cases decided in the state courts, to which the judicial power of the federal government extended.
« The confederation gave to congress the power of establishing courts for receiving and
determining finally appeals in all cases of captures.'
“ This power was uniformly construed to authorize those courts to receive appeals from the sentences of state courts, and to affirm or reverse them. State tribunals are not mentioned; but this clause in the confederation necessarily comprises them. Yet the relation between the general and state governments was much weaker and much more lax, under the confederation than under the present constitution; and the states being much more completely sovereign, their institutions were much more independent.
6 The convention which framed the constitution, on turning their attention to the judicial power, found it limited to a few objects, but with respect to some of those objects extending in its appellate form to the judgments of the state courts. They extended it, among other objects, to all cases arising under the constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States; and in a subsequent clause declare, that in such cases, the Supreme Court shall exercise appellate jurisdiction. Nothing seems to be given which would justify the withdrawal of a judgment rendered in a state court on the constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States from this appellate jurisdiction.
“Gréat weight has always been attached to contemporaneous exposition. No question it is believed has arisen to which this principle applies '
more unequivocally than to that now under consideration.
and forgery of the notes of the bank of the United States, (113) which declared that nothing therein contained should be construed to deprive the state courts of jurisdiction under the laws of the several states of offences made cognizable therein, were strictly constitutional and proper.
In no case can the circuit or district courts exercise jurisdiction, unless it be so provided by congress. The judicial part of the constitution except so far as relates to the Supreme Court, must be set in motion by congress. It is, therefore, proper to show to what extent the power has been exercised by congress, observing at the same time that nothing prevents them from extending the jurisdiction of those or other courts which they may hereafter ordain and establish, provided they do not exceed the limits of the constitution.
The original jurisdiction of the circuit court now extends to suits in which the United States are plaintiffs or petitioners, to suits between citizens of different states and those in which an alien is a "party, to suits relative to patents granted under the authority of the United States, and to suits brought by or against the Bank of the United States.
In criminal cases the circuit court has original jurisdiction of all crimes and offences cognizable under the authority of the United States, except, as we have seen, proceedings against ambassadors and other public ministers or their domestics, which, whenever a court of law can exercise a jurisdiction consistently with the law of nations, are reserved for the Supreme Court.
The original jurisdiction of the district court in
(113) Acts of February 24, 1807, and April 10, 1816.
civil cases includes all causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction ; 'seizures under laws of impost, navigation or trade of the United States, made on waters navigable from the sea by vessels of ten or more tons burthen, within their respective districts or on the high seas; seizures on land, or other waters than aforesaid; penalties and forfeitures; suits brought by an alien for a tort only in violation of the laws of nations, or a treaty of the United States; suits at common law where the United States sue, and the matter in dispute amounts, exclusive of costs, to one hundred dollars; suits against consuls or vice consuls.
In criminal cases, cognizance is given to the district courts of all crimes and offences cognizable under the authority of the United States, committed within their respective districts, or on the high seas, when whipping not exceeding thirty stripes, a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months is to be inflicted, (114) and with this qualification it may sustain prosecutions against consuls or vice consuls.
In respect to the latter, it deserves notice, that this legislative provision subjecting them in certain supposed cases to the jurisdiction of the lowest court in the Union, is somewhat at variance with the high rank that they are placed in by the constitution. It can
(114) This part of the criminal jurisdiction of the district court, is as yet a dead letter. There is no crime or offence against the United States, for which a punishment within the limits above mentioned is prescribed. It cannot be understood that prosecutions for offences punishable by the acts of congress in a more severe manner, can be sustained with a view to the judgment of the court being reduced within these limits.