In order to bring a case within the reviewing power of this
Court, as prescribed by the 25th Section of the Judiciary Act, it
is necessary that the record should show that the point giving
jurisdiction to this Court was raised and decided in the state
The preceding decisions upon this subject referred to.
Hence, where it appears from the record that the decision of the
state court turned upon the construction, and not the validity, of
a state law, and that the question of its validity was not raised,
this Court has no jurisdiction.
The facts are set forth in the opinion of the court, to which
the reader is referred.
Page 53 U. S. 166
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Grand Gulf Railroad & Banking Company was chartered by
the State of Mississippi in the year 1833. In 1840 an act was
passed by the legislature of that state declaring that it should
not be lawful for any bank in Mississippi to transfer by
endorsement or otherwise any note, bill receivable, or other debt.
And in 1842, after the passage of this act, the bank having become
insolvent and its notes greatly depreciated, assigned and
transferred all of its notes, bills receivable, and other assets of
any value to John Lindsey and Alfred Ingraham, in trust for the
payment of its debts, in the order specified in the deed.
Some of the debtors of the bank whose notes and mortgages were
included in this transfer resided in the State of Louisiana. And in
1843, John R. Marshall, the defendant in error, being the holder of
the notes of the bank payable to bearer to the amount of $5,400,
obtained an attachment from one of the district courts of Louisiana
against the property and credits of the bank and laid it in the
hands of these debtors as garnishees. The bank appeared and
answered, and averred that the debts and property in question had
been transferred to the trustees above named previous to the
attachment, and the trustees intervened and claimed the debts and
property as belonging to them by virtue of the assignment of the
The defendant in error replied that the assignment was null and
void by the laws of Mississippi and the laws of Louisiana, and that
it was without consideration and in fraud of the creditors.
Testimony was taken on both sides to show the object of the
assignment, and the circumstances under which it was made, and
several questions of law were raised in the district court upon the
admissibility of testimony and upon the manner in which the deed to
the trustees had been executed. But it is unnecessary to state
either the testimony or the questions raised at the trial, because
neither the proofs nor the points made can have any bearing upon
the question upon which the case must be decided in this Court.
Page 53 U. S. 167
The district court gave judgment in favor of the defendant in
error, from which the bank and trustees appealed to the supreme
court of the state, where the judgment of the district court was
affirmed. And this writ of error is brought under the 25th section
of the act of 1789 to revise that judgment.
The plaintiffs in error claim jurisdiction for this Court upon
the ground that the assignment by the bank to the trustees was
adjudged to be void by the state court under the act of the State
of Mississippi of 1840 hereinbefore mentioned, and that this act is
a violation of the charter granted to the bank and impairs the
obligation of the contract which the charter created between the
state and the corporation.
If the record brought that question before us, undoubtedly we
should have jurisdiction and the judgment of the state court could
not be maintained. For it is the same question which this Court
decided in the case of Planters Bank of Mississippi
6 How. 301, and in Baldwin v.
6 How. 332.
But in order to give this Court jurisdiction, the record must
show that the point was brought to the attention of the state court
and decided by it. It is not sufficient that the point was in the
case, and might have been raised and decided. It must appear that
the validity of the state law was drawn in question and the
judgment founded upon its validity. This is evidently the meaning
of the 25th section of the act of 1789, which gives the writ of
error. And the reason is obvious. The party is authorized to bring
his case before this Court because a state court has refused to him
a right to which he is entitled under the Constitution or laws of
the United States. But if he omits to claim it in the state court,
there is no reason for permitting him to harass the adverse party
by a writ of error to this Court when, for anything that appears in
the record, the judgment of the state court might have been in his
favor if its attention had been drawn to the question. The rule
upon this subject is distinctly stated in the case of
Armstrong v. Treasurer of
16 Pet. 285, where the Court said
that when the proceeding is under the law of Louisiana, it must be
shown that the point arose and was decided either by the statement
of facts, and the decision as usually set out in such cases by the
Court, or it must be entered on the record of the proceedings in
the appellate court in cases where the record shows that such a
point may have arisen and been decided, that it was in fact raised
and decided. In suits at common law, the question is usually
presented by the pleadings or by an exception to the opinion of the
In the case before us, the proceedings were under the
Page 53 U. S. 168
laws. And the opinion of the court, according to the practice in
that state, is entered on the record, and sets forth the principles
of law upon which the decision was made. And it appears that the
decision turned upon the construction, not the validity, of the act
of Mississippi of 1840, and upon a question of merely local law
concerning the right by prescription claimed by the trustees.
Nothing is said in relation to the constitutionality or validity
of this act of Mississippi, and the opinion of the court clearly
shows that no such question was raised or decided.
This writ of error must therefore be
Dismissed for want of jurisdiction.
This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record
from the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana and was argued by
counsel. On consideration whereof it is now here ordered and
adjudged by this Court that this cause be and the same is hereby
dismissed for the want of jurisdiction.