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It is true that in the last five cases the question of jurisdiction was not raised by counsel. But the courts could not have entered upon an examination of the cases without first determining in favor of their jurisdiction. If they entertained doubts respecting their jurisdiction, it was the duty of the courts to raise the question themselves. We have then seven States, Alabama, Missouri, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Indiana, in which the jurisdiction of the courts over the adoption of an amendment to a constitution has been recognized and asserted. In no decision, either State or Federal, bas this jurisdiction been denied. We may securely rest our jurisdiction upon the authority of these cases. He would be a bold jurist, indeed, who would ride rough-shod over such an unbroken current of judicial authority, so fortified in principle, sustained by reason, and so necessary to the peaceful administration of the government. . . . Abidingly and firmly convinced of the correctness of our former conclusion, recognizing no superior higher than the Constitution, acknowledging no fealty greater than loyalty to its principles, and fearing no consequences except those which would flow from a dereliction in duty, we adhere to and reaffirm the doctrines already announced.
The petition for rehearing is overruled....
1 Compare Const. Prohib. Amend. 24 Kans. 700; Jameson, Const. Conv. (4th ed.), $$ 561, 5746, 574 f, and ch. viii. passim. As regards the proper evidence of the factum of a statute, the right to consult the legislative journals, and the finally authentic quality of the enrolment, see Y. B. H. VI., 17, 8 (1455); King v. Countess Dowager of Arundel, Hob. 110 (1616), and the carefully considered case of Field v. Clark, 143 U. S. 649, with a note, 16. 661, referring to the cases in the several States. — Ed.
THE JURISDICTION OF THE UNITED STATES.
IN Livingston and Fulton v. Van Ingen, et al. 9 Johns. 507, (1812), (it was held that statutes of New York granting to the plaintitfs the exclusive right of navigating the waters of that State in vessels propelled by steam, were not in violation of the Constitution of the United States old and the same doctrine was afterwards held in Gibbons v. Quden, 17 Johns. 488 (1820). This doctrine was overruled by the Supreme Court of the United States, on error, in Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1 (1824), so far as concerned vessels licensed under the statutes of the United States for regulating the coasting trade, and navigating between New York and other States; and in North River Steamb. Co. v. Livingston, 3 Cow. 713 (1825), as regards vessels similarly licensed and navigating merely the waters of New York.
In Livingston v. Van Ingen, ubi supra, p. 573, KENT, C. J., said: “The legislative power, in a single, independent government, extends to every proper object of power, and is limited only by its own constitutional provisions, or by the fundamental principles of all government, and the unalienable rights of mankind. In the present case, the grant to the appellants took away no vested right. It interfered with no man's property. It left every citizen to enjoy all the rights of navigation, and all the use of the waters of this State which he before enjoyed. There was, then, no injustice, no violation of first principles, in a grant to the appellants, for a limited time, of the exclusive benefit of their own hazardous and expensive experiments. The first impression upon every unprejudliced mind would be, that there was justice and policy in the grant. Clearly. then, it is valid, unless the power to make it be taken away by the Constitution of the United States.
“We are not called upon to say affirmatively what powers have been granted to the general government, or to what extent. Those powers, whether express or implied, may be plenary and sovereign, in reference to the specified objects of them. They may even be liberally construed in furtherance of the great and essential ends of the government. To this doctrine I willingly accede. But the question here is, not what powers are granted to that government, but what powers are retained by this, and, particularly, whether the States have absolutely parted with their original power of granting such an exclusive privilege as the one now before us. It does not follow, that because a given
I In 1811, it had been held in the same case that the Circuit Court of the United States (1 Paine, 45) had no jurisdiction.— Ed.
power is granted to Congress, the States cannot exercise a similar power. We ought to bear in mind certain great rules or principles of construction peculiar to the case of a confederated government, and by attending to them in the examination of the subject, all our seeming difficulties will vanish.
“ When the people create a single, entire government, they grant at once all the rights of sovereignty. The powers granted are indefinite, and incapable of enumeration. Everything is granted that is not expressly reserved in the constitutional charter, or necessarily retained as inherent in the people. But when a Federal government is erected with only a portion of the sovereign power, the rule of construction is directly the reverse, and every power is reserved to the members that is not, either in express terms, or by necessary implication, taken away from them, and vested exclusively in the Federal head. This rule bas not only been acknowledged by the most intelligent friends to the Constitution, but is plainly declared by the instrument itself. Congress have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, and excises, but as these powers are not given exclusively, the States have a concurrent jurisdiction, and retain the same absolute powers of taxation which they possessed before the adoption of the Constitution, except the power of laying an impost, which is expressly taken away. This very exception proves that, without it, the States would have retained the power of laying an impost; and it further implies, that in cases not excepted, the authority of the States remains unimpaired.
“This principle might be illustrated by other instances of grants of power to Congress with a prohibition to the States from exercising the like powers; but it becomes unnecessary to enlarge upon so plain a proposition, as it is removed beyond all doubt by the tenth article of the amendments to the Constitution. That article declares that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. The ratification of the Constitution by the convention of this State, was made with the explanation and understanding, that every power, jurisdiction, and right, which was not clearly delegated to the general government, remained to the people of the sereral States, or to their respective State governments. There was a similar provision in the Articles of Confederation, and the principle results from the very nature of the Federal Government, which consists only of a defined portion of the undefined mass of sovereign power originally vested in the several members of the Union. There may be inconveniences, but generally there will be no serious difficulty, and there cannot well be any interruption of the public peace, in the concurrent exercise of those powers. The powers of the two governments are each supreme within their respective constitutional spheres. They
1 The Articles (Art. II.) read : “Each State retains . . . every power ... which is not by this confederation expressly delegated.” ... The Tenth Amendment omits the word “ expressly.” — Ed.
• may each operate with full effect upon different subjects, or they may,
as in the case of taxation, operate upon different parts of the same object. The powers of the two governments cannot indeed be supreme over each other, for that would involve a contradiction. When those powers, the
fore, come directly in contact, as when they are aimed at each other, or at one indivisible object, the power of the State is subordinate, and must yield. The legitimate exercise of the constitutional powers of the general government becomes the supreme law of the land, and the national judiciary is specially charged with the maintenance of that law, and this is the true and efficient power to preserve order, dependence, and harmony in our complicated system of government. We have, then, nothing to do in the ordinary course of legislation, with the possible contingency of a collision, nor are we to embarrass ourselves in the anticipation of theoretical difficulties, than which nothing could, in general, be more fallacious. Such a doctrine would be constantly taxing our sagacity, to see whether the law might not contravene some future regulation of commerce, or some moneyed or some military operation of the United States. Our most simple municipal provisions would be enacted with diffidence, for fear we might involve ourselves, our citizens and our consciences, in some case of usurpation. Fortunately for the peace and happiness of this country, we have a plainer path to follow. We do not handle a work of such hazardous consequence. We are not always walking per ignes suppositos cineri doloso. Our safe rule of construction and of action is this, that if any given power was originally vested in this State, if it has not been exclusively ceded to Congress, or if the exercise of it has not been prohibited to the States, we may then go on in the exercise of the power until it comes practically in collision with the actual exercise of some congressional power. When that happens to be the case, the State authority will so far be controlled, but it will still be good in all those respects in which it does not absolutely contravene the provision of the paramount law." i
Previous to the formation of the new Constitution, we were divided into independent States, united for some purposes, but, in most respects, sovereign. These States could exercise almost every legislative power, and, among others, that of passing bankrupt laws. When the American people created a national legislature, with certain enumerated powers, it was neither necessary nor proper to define the powers retained by the States. These powers proceed, not from the people of America, but from the people of the several States; and remain, after the adoption of the Constitution, what they were before, except so far as they may be abridged by that instrument. In some instances, as in making treaties, we find an express prohibition; and this shows the sense of the convention to have been, that the mere grant of a power to Con
i See I Kent Com. (12th ed.) 391, 432, et seq. - ED.
gress did not imply a prohibition on the States to exercise the same power. But it has never been supposed, that this concurrent power of legislation extended to every possible case in which its exercise by the States has not been expressly prohibited. The confusion resulting from such a practice would be endless. The principle laid down by the counsel for the plaintiff, in this respect, is undoubtedly correct. Whenever the terms in which a power is granted to Congress, or the nature of the power, require that it should be exercised exclusively by Congress the subject is as completely taken from the State legislatures, as if they bad been expressly forbidden to act on it.
Is the power to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies, throughout the United States, of this description? .
MARSHALL, C. J. (for the court), in Sturges v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 192– 193 (1819).
As preliminary to the very able discussions of the Constitution which we have heard from the Bar, and as having some influence on its construction, reference has been made to the political situation of these States, anterior to its formation. It has been said that they were sovereign, were completely independent, and were connected with each other only by a league. This is true. But, when these allied sovereigns converted their league into a government, when they converted their congress of ambassadors, deputed to deliberate on their common !! concerns, and to recommend measures of general utility, into a legislature, empowered to enact laws on the most interesting subjects, the whole character in which the States appear underwent a change, the extent of which must be determined by a fair consideration of the instrument by which that change was effected.
This instrument contains an enumeration of powers expressly granted by the people to their government. It has been said that these powers ought to be construed strictly. But why ought they to be so construed ? Is there one sentence in the Constitution which gives countenance to this rule? In the last of the enumerated powers, that which grants, expressly, the means for carrying all others into execution, Congress is authorized to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" for the purpose. But this limitation on the means which may be used, is not extended to the powers which are conferred ; nor is there one sentence in the Constitution, which has been pointed out by the gentlemen of the Bar, or which we have been able to discern, that prescribes this rule. We do not, therefore, think ourselves justified in adopting it.
What do gentlemen mean by a strict construction? If they contend only against that enlarged construction which would extend words beyond their natural and obvions import, we might question the application of the term, but should not controvert the principle. If they contend for that narrow construction which, in support of some theory not to be found in the Constitution, would deny to the government those powers which the words of the grant, as usually understood, im