Where a decision of the highest court of a state in a case is
made on its settled preexistent rules of general jurisprudence, the
case cannot be brought here under the 25th section; notwithstanding
the fact that the state has subsequently made those rules one of
the articles of its constitution, and the case be one where if the
decision had been made on the constitution alone,
of error under the said section might have lain.
Motion by Mr. Edward Janin (Mr. T. J. Durant opposing) to
dismiss, for want of jurisdiction, a writ of error to the Supreme
Court of the State of Louisiana, taken under an assumption that the
case fell within the 25th section of the Judiciary Act, quoted
pp. 81 U. S. 5
MR. JUSTICE SWAYNE stated the case, and delivered the opinion of
The plaintiff in error brought the suit against the defendant in
error in the Fifth District Court of New Orleans, to recover the
sum of $93,380, for moneys deposited by the plaintiff with the
defendant, and moneys collected by the latter for the former. All
the so-called moneys received by the defendant were the notes of
the rebel government. The district court, on the 27th of March,
1867, gave judgment for the plaintiff. The case was thereupon taken
by appeal to the supreme court of the state. That court, on the
14th of December, 1869, reversed the judgment of the court below
and dismissed the case. In the opinion delivered it was said.
Page 81 U. S. 10
"Under the Constitution of 1868, the courts of this state cannot
entertain an action based upon transactions in Confederate Treasury
notes. We think the evidence discloses that this case is founded
upon dealings in unlawful currency, and the court has often refused
to lend its aid to transactions reprobated by law."
The Constitution of 1868 was not in existence when the case was
decided by the district court.
The supreme court founded its judgment alike upon the
constitutional provision and prior adjudications. Those
adjudications are numerous and conclusive upon the subject.
] The constitution
only declared a settled preexisting rule of jurisprudence in that
state. The result in this case would have been necessarily the same
if the constitution had not contained the provision in question.
This brings the case within the authority of Bethel v.
such a state of facts this Court cannot take jurisdiction under the
section of the Judiciary Act upon which the writ of error is
Hunley v. Scott,
19 La.Ann. 161; King v. Huston,
Hubbel & Co, ib.,
288; McCracken v. Pool, ib.,
359; Norton v. Dawson, ib.,
77 U. S. 10