Imágenes de páginas


lish common law, does not provide for jury trials, but makes its decrees by the orders of a judge, the facts usually being admitted or found by a commissioner appointed for the purpose. Thus admiralty and maritime rights are settled by the rulings of the courts.

It was not until 1871 that the Supreme Court went so far as to say that the United States District Court has exclusively the power to proceed in rem, that is, against the vessel and adjudicate against it as the defendant. “The common law remcdies,” said Mr. Justice Clifford, * " are not appropriate nor competent to enforce a maritime lien by a proceeding against the vessel.” That the State legislatures have authority to create a maritime lien has become the ruling of the Supreme Court, yet the State courts cannot enforce that lien by proceeding in rem.

In Mr. Justice Story's day the court held † that the State laws in admiralty affairs should be recognized and enforced by the Federal courts. Thus the Federal courts in time have become exclusive and absolute in the departments in which the Constitution by a liberal construction permits them to have exclusive jurisdiction. I

The Slaughter-house cases & have called forth the most important recent constitutional decision from the Supreme Court.

The legislature of Louisiana, on the 8th of March, 1869, passed an act granting to a corporation, created by it, the exclusive right, for twenty-five years, to have and maintain slaughter-houses, landings for cattle and yards for inclosing cattle intended for sale or slaughter within the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson and St. Bernard—1,154 square miles of territory, having a population of nearly 300,000, and prohibiting all other persons from building, keeping or having slaughterhouses, landings for cattle, and yards for cattle intended for sale or slaughter within those limits; and authorizing the corporation to exact certain fees and charges for the privileges of landing and slaughtering upon its premises. After the most thorough argument and deliberation it was held that this monopoly which destroyed the business of hundreds of citizens, was not a law that abridged the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States ; that the Parliament of Great Britain and the State legislatures of this country, have always exercised the power of granting exclusive rights when they were necessary and proper to effectuate a purpose which had in view the public good, and the power here exercised is of that class and has until now never been denied.

* 11 Wallace, 185; Leon vs. Galceron.
+ The Gen. Smith.
# The Lattawana, 21 Wallace, 558.

& 16 Wallace, 36; Butchers' Benevolent Association of New Orleans vs. The Crescent City Live Stock Landing and Slaughter-house Co.

The slaughter-house monopoly, in fine, was held to w be the exercise of the power of the legislature to make

police regulations-a power behind which the State takes shelter to pass many oppressive laws,

Justices Chase, Field, Swayne and Bradley dissented, believing that the Fourteenth amendment, which declares that no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, authorized the court to declare the act void, and that one of the privileges and immunities of citizens is to follow whatever lawful employment he chooses.

But the majority of the court held that the history of the last three amendments to the Constitution shows, that they were intended to free the African race, secure and perpetuate that freedom, and protect it from the oppressions of the white men who had been slave owners.

The privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States are those which arise out of the nature and essential character of the national government, the provisions of its Constitution, or its laws and treaties made in pursuance thereof; and it is these which are placed under the protection of Congress by this clause of the Fourteenth amendment.

What the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States are which no State can abridge, the court declined to say. It enumerated a few merely by way of example. Such as the right to go to Washington to assert a claim upon the government, to demand the care and protection of the Federal government, the privilege of the writ of Habeas corpus, right to use the navigable waters of the United States, are some of the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the United States. Still less did the court attempt to define the privileges and immunities of the citizens of a State.

The boundaries of State and national jurisdiction form a constant theme for the adjudication of the Supreme Court, and that it may preserve the happy


* 6 Wallace, 36; Crandall vs. Nevada.

medium between consolidation on the one side, and the undue independence of the States on the other, is the hope of every good and patriotic citizen.

« AnteriorContinuar »