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not claim, as belonging to the judiciary, the exercise of political power. That belongs to another branch of the government. The protection and enforcement of many rights secured by treaties, most certainly do not belong to the judiciary. It is only where the rights of persons or property are involved, and when such rights can be presented under some judicial form of proceedings, that courts of justice can interpose relief. This court can have no right to pronounce an abstract opinion upon the constitutionality of a State law. Such law must be brought into actual, or threatened operation upon rights properly falling under judicial cogpizance, or a remedy is not to be had here.” We have said Mr. Justice Story concurred in this opinion; and Mr. Justice Johnson, who also delivered one, recognized the same distinctions. 5 Peters, 29–30.
By the second section of the third article of the Constitution “the judicial power extends to all cases, in law and equity, arising under the Constitution, the laws of the United States," &c., and as applicable to the case in hand, “ to controversies, between a State and citizens of another State," which controversies, under the Judiciary Act, may be brought, in the first instance, before this court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, and we agree, that the bill filed, presents a case, which, if it be the subject of judicial cognizance, would, in form, come under a familiar head of equity jurisdiction, that is, jurisdiction to grant an injunction to restrain a party from a wrong or injury to the rights of another, where the danger, actual or threatened, is irreparable, or the remedy at law inadequate. But, according to the course of proceeding under this head in equity, in order to entitle the party to the remedy, a case must be presented appropriate for the exercise of judicial power; the rights in danger, as we have seen, must be rights of persons or property, not merely political rights, which do not belong to the jurisdiction of a court, either in law or equity.
The remaining question on this branch of our inquiry is, whether, in view of the principles above stated, and which we have endeavored to explain, a case is made out in the bill of which this court can take , judicial cognizance. In looking into it, it will be seen that we are called upon to restrain the defendants, who represent the executive authority of the government, from carrying into execution certain Acts of Congress, inasmuch as such execution would annul, and totally abolish the existing State government of Georgia, and establish another and different one in its place; in other words, would overthrow and destroy the corporate existence of the State, by depriving it of all the means and instrumentalities whereby its existence might, and, otherwise would, be maintained.
This is the substance of the complaint, and of the relief prayed for. The bill, it is true, sets out in detail the different and substantial changes in the structure and organization of the existing government, as contemplated in these Acts of Congress; which, it is charged, if carried into effect by the defendants, will work this destruction. But they are grievances, because they necessarily and inevitably tend to the
overthrow of the State as an organized political body. They are stated, in detail, as laying a foundation for the interposition of the court to prevent the specific execution of them; and the resulting threatened mischief. So in respect to the prayers of the bill. The first is, that the defendants may be enjoined against doing or permitting any act or thing, within or concerning the State, which is or may be directed, or required of them, by or under the two Acts of Congress complained of; and the remaining four prayers are of the same character, except more specific as to the particular acts threatened to be committed.
That these matters, both as stated in the body of the bill, and in the prayers for relief, call for the judgment of the court upon political questions, and, upon rights, not of persons or property, but of a political character, will hardly be denied. For the rights for the protection of which our authority is invoked, are the rights of sovereignty, of political jurisdiction, of government, of corporate existence as a State, with all its constitutional powers and privileges. No case of private rights or private property infringed, or in danger of actual or threatened infringement, is presented by the bill, in a judicial form, for the judgment of the court.
It is true, the bill, in setting forth the political rights of the State, and of its people to be protected, among other matters, avers, that Georgia owns certain real estate and buildings therein, State Capitol, and executive mansion, and other real and personal property; and that putting the Acts of Congress into execution, and destroying the State, would deprive it of the possession and enjoyment of its property. But, it is apparent, that this reference to property and statement concerning it, are only by way of showing one of the grievances resulting from the threatened destruction of the State, and in aggravation of it, not as a specific ground of relief. This matter of property is neither stated as an independent ground, nor is it noticed at all in the prayers for relief. Indeed the case, as made in the bill, would have stopped far short of the relief sought by the State, and its main purpose and design given up, by restraining its remedial effect, simply to the protection of the title and possession of its property. Such relief would have called for a very different bill from the one before us.
Having arrived at the conclusion that this court, for the reasons above stated, possesses no jurisdiction over the subject matter presented in the bill for relief, it is unimportant to examine the question as it respects jurisdiction over the parties defendants.
THE CHIEF JUSTICE: Without being able to yield my assent to the grounds stated in the opinion just read for the dismissal of the complainant's bill, I concur fully in the conclusion that the case made by the bill, is one of which this court has no jurisdiction.
Bill dismissed for want of jurisdiction.
MAKING AND CHANGING WRITTEN CONSTITUTIONS.
1. CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
“IN 1774, Massachusetts recommended the assembling of a Continental Congress to deliberate upon the state of public affairs; and according to her recommendation, delegates were appointed by the colonies for a congress to be held in Philadelphia in the autumn of the same year. In some of the legislatures of the colonies, which were then in session, delegates were appointed by the popular or representative branch ; and in other cases they were appointed by conventions of the people in the colonies. The congress of delegates (calling themselves in their more formal acts the delegates appointed by the good people of these colonies ') assembled on the 4th of September, 1774 ; and having chosen officers, they adopted certain fundamental rules for their proceedings.
“ Thus was organized under the auspices and with the consent of the people, acting directly in their primary, sovereign capacity, and without the intervention of the functionaries, to whom the ordinary powers of government were delegated in the colonies, the first general or national government, which has been very aptly called the revolutionary government,' since in its origin and progress it was wholly conducted upon revolutionary principles. The congress thus assembled, exercised de facto and de jure a sovereign authority ; not as the delegated agents of the governments de facto of the colonies, but in virtue of original powers derived from the people. The revolutionary government, thus formed, terminated only when it was regularly superseded by the confederated government under the articles finally ratified, as we shall hereafter see, in 1781....
“In Ware v. Hylton, 3 Dall. 199, Mr. Justice Chase (himself also a Revolutionary statesman) said : It has been inquired, what powers Congress possessed from the first meeting in September, 1774, until the ratification of the confederation on the 1st of March, 1781. It appears to me that the powers of Congress during that whole period were derived from the people they represented, expressly given through the medium of their State conventions or State legislatures; or that after they were exercised, they were impliedly ratified by the acquiescence and obedience of the people, &c. The powers of Congress originated from necessity, and arose out of it, and were only limited by events; or, in other words, they were revolutionary in their nature. Their extent depended on the exigencies and necessities of publio
affairs. I entertain this general idea, that the several States retained all internal sovereignty; and that Congress properly possessed the rights of external sovereignty. In deciding on the powers of Congress, and of the several States before the confederation, I see but one safe rule, namely, that all the powers actually exercised by Congress before that period were rightfully exercised on the presumption not to be controverted, that they were so authorized by the people they represented, by an express or implied grant; and that all the powers exercised by the State conventions or State legislatures were also rightfully exercised on the same presumption of authority from the people....
6. On the 11th of June, 1776, the same day on which the committee for preparing the Declaration of Independence was appointed, Congress resolved tható a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies ;' and on the next day a committee was accordingly appointed, consisting of a member from each colony. Nearly a year before this period (viz., on the 21st of July, 1775), Dr. Franklin had submitted to Congress a sketch of Articles of Confederation, which does not, however, appear to have been acted on. These articles contemplated a union until a reconciliation with Great Britain, and, on failure thereof, the confederation to be perpetual.
"On the 12th of July, 1776, the committee appointed to prepare Articles of Confederation presented a draft, which was in the handwriting of Mr. Dickenson, one of the committee, and a delegate from Pennsylvania. The draft, so reported, was debated from the 22d to the 31st of July, and on several days between the 5th and 20th of August, 1776. On this last day Congress, in committee of the whole, reported a new draft, which was ordered to be printed for the use of the members.
“ The subject seems not again to have been touched until the 8th of April, 1777, and the articles were debated at several times between that time and the 15th of November of the same year. On this last day the articles were reported with sundry amendments, and finally adopted by Congress. A committee was then appointed to draft, and they accordingly drafted a circular letter, requesting the States respectively to authorize their delegates in Congress to subscribe the same in behalf of the State. . .
“Many objections were stated, and many amendments were proposed. All of them, however, were rejected by Congress, not probably because they were all deemed inexpedient or improper in themselves, but from the danger of sending the instrument back again to all the States for reconsideration. Accordingly, on the 26th of June, 1778, a copy, engrossed for ratification, was prepared, and the ratification began on the 9th day of July following. It was ratified by all the States, except Delaware and Maryland, in 1778; by Delaware in 1779, and by Maryland on the 1st of March, 1781, from which last date its final ratification took effect, and was joyfully announced by Congress.
“Such is the substance of this celebrated instrument, under which the
treaty of peace, acknowledging our independence, was negotiated, the War of the Revolution concluded, and the Union of the States maintained until the adoption of the present Constitution. ...
The leading defects of the confederation may be enumerated under the following heads :
“ In the first place, there was an utter want of all coercive authority to carry into effect its own constitutional measures. This, of itself, was sufficient to destroy its whole efficiency, as a superintending government, if that may be called a government which possessed no one solid attribute of power. It has been justly observed that, å government authorized to declare war, but relying on independent States for the means of prosecuting it; capable of contracting debts, and of pledging the public faith for their payment, but depending on thirteen distinct sovereignties for the preservation of that faith, could only be rescued from ignominy and contempt by finding those sovereignties administered by men exempt from the passions incident to human nature.' That is, by supposing a case in which all human governments would become unnecessary, and all differences of opinion would become impossible. In truth, Congress possessed only the power of recommendation. It depended altogether upon the good-will of the States, whether a measure should be carried into effect or not. And it can furnish no matter of surprise, under such circumstances, that great differences of opinion as to measures should have existed in the legislatures of the different States; and that a policy, strongly supported in some, should have been denounced as ruinous in others. Honest and enlightened men might well divide on such matters ; and in this perpetual conflict of opinion the State might feel itself justified in a silent or open disregard of the Act of Congress.
"In this state of things, commissioners were appointed by the Legislatures of Virginia and Maryland, early in 1785, to form a compact relative to the navigation of the rivers Potomac and Pocomoke, and the Chesapeake Bay. The commissioners having met at Alexandria in Virginia in March, in that year, felt the want of more enlarged powers, and particularly of powers to provide for a local naval force and a tariff of duties upon imports. Upon receiving their recommendation, the Legislature of Virginia passed a resolution for laying the subject of a tariff before all the States composing the Union. Soon afterwards, in January, 1786, the legislature adopted another resolution, appointing cominissioners, who were to meet such as might be appointed by the other States in the Union at a time and place to be agreed on, to take into consideration the trade of the United States; to examine the relative situation and trade of the States; to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial relations may be necessary to their common interest and their permanent harmony; and to report to the several States such an Act, relative to this great object, as, when unanimously ratified by them, will enable the United States in Congress assembled to provide for the same.'