New Jersey v. New York
30 U.S. 284 (1831)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

New Jersey v. New York, 30 U.S. 5 Pet. 284 284 (1831)

New Jersey v. New York

30 U.S. (5 Pet.) 284

Syllabus

Congress has passed no act for the special purpose of prescribing the mode of proceeding in suits instituted against a state, or in any suit in which the Supreme Court is to exercise the original jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution.

It has been settled, on great deliberation, that this Court may exercise its original jurisdiction in suits against a state under the authority conferred by the Constitution and existing acts of Congress. The rule respecting the process, the persons on whom it is to be served, and the time of service, is fixed. The course of the Court after due service of process has also been prescribed.

In a suit in this Court instituted by a state against another state of the Union, the service of the process of the court on the governor and attorney general of the state sixty days before the return day of the process, is a sufficient service.

At a very early period in our judicial history, suits were instituted in this Court against states, and the questions concerning its jurisdiction and mode of proceeding were necessarily considered.

After due service of the subpoena, the state which is complainant has a right to proceed ex parte, and if after the service of an order of the Court for the hearing of the case there shall not be an appearance, the Court will proceed to a final hearing.

No final decree or judgment having been given in this Court against a state, the question of proceeding to a final decree is not conclusively settled in this case until the cause shall come on to be heard in chief.

The cases of Georgia v. Brailsford; Oswald v. New York; Chisholm v. Georgia; New York v. Connecticut; Grayson v. Virginia cited as to the jurisdiction and modes of proceeding in suits in which a state is a party.

Mr. Wirt, for the complainant, stated that the subpoena had been regularly served upwards of two months, and there was no appearance on the part of the State of New York.

The seventeenth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 authorizes the Court to make and establish all necessary rules for the conducting the business of the courts of the United States. This Court has such a power without the aid of that provision of the law.

The seventh rule of this Court, which was applicable to this matter, was made at August term, 1791. THE CHIEF JUSTICE, in answer to the motion of the Attorney General, informs him and the bar that this Court consider the practice of the Court of King's Bench and of Chancery in England as affording outlines for the practice of this Court, and that they will from

Page 30 U. S. 285

time to time make such alterations therein as circumstances may render necessary. 1 Cond. viii.

In 1796, the tenth rule was adopted.

"Ordered that process of subpoena issuing out of this Court in any suit in equity shall be served on the defendant sixty days before the return day of the said process, and further that if the defendant on such service of the subpoena should not appear at the return day contained therein, the complainant shall be at liberty to proceed ex parte."

Ibid.

Construing these two rules together, they bring us in the case before the Court to that part of the English practice where the party may proceed to a hearing. There is no necessity for those proceedings here which are resorted to in England to compel an appearance.

Nor would the practice in England be proper in the case before the Court. The object of the bill is to quiet a title; it is a bill of peace. Here the rule considers the party, when served with process, in the same situation as if he had appeared.

The question is what is to be done when all the process to compel an appearance is exhausted; what is the next step? It is to take the bill pro confesso; but in England, formerly, by a standing rule in chancery, before this can be done, the party must have appeared.

Afterwards, to prevent the process of the court being eluded, the statute of 25 George II was enacted, by which it was provided that if no appearance was entered by one who had absconded, the court would make an order for an appearance, and if no appearance was entered, the bill should be taken pro confesso.

This statute regulated the practice in the courts of chancery of England in 1791, when the seventh rule of this Court was adopted. But this statute applied only to the case of a party absconding, and it was only to force an appearance. In the present case, as has been observed, we stand as if all the proceedings for such a purpose had been exhausted.

Different practices prevail in relation to such a case in the several states of the union. In New Jersey, the practice is to file the proofs in the cause and proceed to a hearing. This is not the course which is pursued in Virginia. As to the practice in England, cited 2 Pr.Wm. 556; Moseley 386; Har.

Page 30 U. S. 286

Chancery Practice by Newland 156; 1 Grant's Chancery Practice 96.

Something is now to be done in this case, and it is for the Court to determine what that may be. If the Court desire it, it is fully competent to them to make any new rule relative to the future proceedings in the case.

In the Court of Chancery in England, the party could take a decree pro confesso and consider it as final. But this is not the wish of the complainant. It is desired that the proceedings should be carried on with the utmost respect to the other party, and the wish of the State of New Jersey is to have an examination of the case and a final decree after such an examination.

It is therefore proposed that the Court direct a rule to be entered that the bill be taken pro confesso, unless the party against whom it is filed appear and answer before the rules day in August next, and if it does not, that the cause be set down for a final hearing at the next term of this Court on such proofs as the complainants may exhibit.

MR. JUSTICE BALDWIN suggested that it might be proper to argue certain questions arising in this case in open court, such as what was the proper duty of the Court in the case? What was the practice in England? And whether this Court had power to proceed in suits between states without an act of Congress having directed the mode of proceeding? He did not propose this as a matter personal to himself, but as a member of the Court.

Mr. Wirt said that the jurisdiction which was to be exercised was given by the Constitution, and the seventeenth section of the act of Congress authorized the Court to establish such rules as to the manner in which the power should be executed. There are cases in which the court have taken this jurisdiction. The case of Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 219; 2 Condens. 635; Grayson v. Virginia, 3 Dall. 320; 1 Condens. 141.

When the subpoena was asked for at last term of this Court, 28 U. S. 3 Pet. 461, the case of Chisholm v. Georgia was then particularly referred to, and it was considered that although

Page 30 U. S. 287

the amendment to the Constitution has taken away the jurisdiction of this Court in suits brought by individuals against a state, it has left it jurisdiction in suits between states, in the situation in which it stood originally. The Court, in awarding the process of subpoena, had reference to these cases.

If an elaborate argument of the questions which the case presents is desired, time is asked to prepare for it, and sufficient time to give notice to the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey to attend and assist in the argument.

Official Supreme Court caselaw is only found in the print version of the United States Reports. Justia caselaw is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect current legal developments, verdicts or settlements. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or information linked to from this site. Please check official sources.