Stuart v. Laird
5 U.S. 299 (1803)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stuart v. Laird, 5 U.S. 1 Cranch 299 299 (1803)

Stuart v. Laird

5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 299

Syllabus

A cause may be transferred by an act of Congress from one inferior tribunal to another.

The Justices of the Supreme Court having, by practice and acquiescence under it for a period of several years, commencing with the organization of the judicial system, sat as circuit judges, this practical exposition of the Constitution is too strong to be shaken or controlled.

Page 5 U. S. 300

A judgment was obtained by the defendant in error in the Court of the United States for the Middle Circuit, in the Virginia District, in an action instituted in that court in January, 1801, for a debt due by the plaintiff in error to him for and on behalf of Laird & Robertson of Port Glasgow, Great Britain.

The Middle Circuit Court in the Virginia District was established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, and continued until 13 February, 1801, when an act was passed, entitled "an act to provide for the more convenient organization of the courts of the United States." 1 Story's L.U.S. 797.

By the twenty-first section of that act, all cases depending in the Middle Circuit Court in Virginia were transferred to other circuit courts established by that law, and by the "act to repeal certain acts respecting the organization of the courts of the United States, and for other purposes," passed 8 March 1802, the provisions of the Judiciary Act of 1789 as to the Middle Circuit Court of Virginia were revised and reenacted.

The case in the middle circuit court went from that court in February, 1801, to the court established by the Act of 13 February, 1801, and it afterwards, on the repeal of that law, returned to the court in which it was originally commenced. While it was pending in the court established in February, 1801, certain proceedings were had which were brought up with the record, and to which the exceptions were taken by the defendant below, and were presented for the consideration of this Court.

The exceptions before this Court were 1. that Congress could not transfer causes from one circuit court to another, and therefore all the proceedings in the court established by the Act of February 13, 1801, were void; 2. that the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States could not by an act of Congress be assigned to hold circuit courts.

Page 5 U. S. 308

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE Marshall having tried the cause in the court below, declined giving an opinion.

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