Article 3, Section 2, Clause 1

Document 64

Corporation of New Orleans v. Winter

1 Wheat. 91 1816

Marshall, Ch. J., delivered the opinion of the court, and, after stating the facts, proceeded as follows:

The proceedings of the court, therefore, is arrested in limine, by a question respecting its jurisdiction. In the case of Hepburn & Dundas v. Ellzey, this court determined, on mature consideration, that a citizen of the district of Columbia could not maintain a suit in the circuit court of the United States. That opinion is still retained.

It has been attempted to distinguish a Territory from the district of Columbia; but the court is of opinion, that this distinction cannot be maintained. They may differ in many respects, but neither of them is a state, in the sense in which that term is used in the constitution. Every reason assigned for the opinion of the court, that a citizen of Columbia was not capable of suing in the courts of the United States, under the Judiciary Act, is equally applicable to a citizen of a territory. Gabriel Winter, then, being a citizen of the Mississippi Territory, was incapable of maintaining a suit alone in the circuit court of Louisiana. Is his case mended by being associated with others who are capable of suing in that court? In the case of Strawbridge et al. v. Curtis et al., it was decided, that where a joint interest is prosecuted, the jurisdiction cannot be sustained, unless each individual be entitled to claim that jurisdiction. In this case it has been doubted, whether the parties might elect to sue jointly or severally. However this may be, having elected to sue jointly, the court is incapable of distinguishing their case, so far as respects jurisdiction, from one in which they were compelled to unite. The circuit court of Louisiana, therefore, had no jurisdiction of the cause, and their judgment must, on that account, be reversed, and the petition dismissed.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 3, Section 2, Clause 1, Document 64
The University of Chicago Press

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