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Florida v. Georgia (58 U.S. 478)/Dissent Curtis

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Dissenting Opinions

United States Supreme Court

58 U.S. 478

Florida  v.  State of Georgia

Mr. Justice CURTIS, dissenting.

It is in accordance with natural justice, and with a principle of jurisprudence, that no one should be affected by a judgment or decree, without an opportunity to present to the court, either by himself or his lawful representative, in some regular and legal course, his allegations and proofs, and to be heard thereon; and, therefore, I should have assented to the application of the attorney-general in this case, and would willingly concur with a majority of the court in the order they direct to be entered, if I did not find it to be subject to objections too grave for me to disregard, and which careful reflection, even under the influence of the great respect I feel for the opinions of my brethren, has not enabled me to overcome.

I will state, as briefly as I can, what these objections are. In doing so, I shall first examine the nature and effect of the application of the attorney-general, to see whether it is in the power of the court to grant it, as made; and I will then consider whether the order directed by the court is subject to the same difficulties, in part or in whole.

That application is, in substance, an ex officio information, in which the attorney-general of the United States informs this court of the pendency of a suit here, by the State of Florida against the State of Georgia, wherein there is in controversy a portion of the boundary line between those States; that it appears, from an inspection of the bill of the State of Florida, and of the answer of the State of Georgia, that, if the pretensions of the State of Georgia shall be sustained by this court, the boundary line in controversy will be so run as to include within the territorial limits of that State a tract of land of about one million two hundred thousand acres, which have been considered and treated heretofore as public domain of the United States, and surveyed as such, and much of which has been sold and granted by the United States, as being part of the territory of East Florida, acquired from Spain.

In support of this information, the attorney-general has filed certain documents and a map; and he prays that, in consideration of the interest and concern of the United States, he may be permitted to appear in the case, and be heard in behalf of the United States, in such time and form as the court shall order.

The case to which this information relates now stands on the original docket of this court, upon a bill filed by the State of Florida and an answer by the State of Georgia. No replication had been put in, and, of course, no proofs taken.

It is quite apparent, therefore, since the case is not now in a condition to be brought to a hearing, and since much time must necessarily elapse, considering the course of the court and the nature of the controversy and the character of the parties, before it can be put into a state to be heard, that this application of the attorney-general is not designed merely to obtain the privilege of taking part in the hearing of the cause, by making an argument at the bar, upon the pleading and proofs as they may exist when the cause may be set for a hearing, if that time shall ever arrive. It seems to me not consistent with that respect which is due to the attorney-general, to suppose that he has caused the States of Florida and Georgia, by their counsel, to appear here, and has called on the court to listen to and consider elaborate and learned arguments upon questions of constitutional law and general jurisprudence, merely to present the question whether-in the contingency that this case should, at some future day, be brought to a hearing, and in the event that, at that time, the interest of the United States should remain as it is now alleged to be-the court would hear the law officer of the United States, in support of its interests.

Courts of justice make orders and decrees upon actually existing states of fact, not upon what may possible occur at some period in the future. And this obvious dictate of ordinary prudence is rigidly obeyed by courts of equity, when acting on subjects like that now before the court.

In England, the sovereign has a great number and variety of interests and rights, which may be affected by decrees of courts of equity. As will be more fully stated hereafter, the attorney-general represents the crown in respect of those rights, and no decree affecting them is made until he has had opportunity to become a party to the suit. But the question, whether he is a necessary party, is raised in the same way and at the same time, as the question whether a private person is a necessary party. And, I believe, we should search in vain for an instance in which any court had made an order in a cause before it was at issue, that, if it should come to a hearing, the attorney-general should be heard at the bar.

I have made these observations concerning the nature and objects of this application, because the information does not specify or in any way indicate what particular order it is desired the court should pass. If I felt at liberty to understand it simply as an application to be heard at the bar, by way of argument on the pleadings and proofs of the complainant and the defendant, I should think the proper answer would be, that the court would advise thereon when it was made reasonably certain that the cause would be heard. But I am not at liberty so to view this information, not only for the reasons I have suggested, but because the attorney-general, with becoming frankness, has declared, both orally, at the bar, and in his printed brief, that what he desires passes far beyond this. He has thus made known to the court that he seeks to intervene in the cause in behalf of the United States; and he has explained his understanding of the term intervention, and of the effect of an order of the court allowing it, to be, that he is to come into the cause, 'not in subordination to the mode of conduction the complaint or defence adopted by one State or by the other, nor subject to the consequences of their acts, or of any possible mispleading, insufficient pleading, omission to plead, or admission or omission of fact, by either or both; but free to co operate with or oppose either or both, and to bring forth all the points of the case according to his own judgment, whether as to the law or the facts; for ex facto oritur jus.'

Can this, or any thing like this, be allowed, consistently with the constitution and laws of the United States?

In answering this inquiry, it is necessary to determine what would be the relation of the United States to this controversy if the attorney-general were thus admitted. In my opinion, they would thus become substantially and really, a party to the controversy. I say substantially and really a party, for I quite agree with the majority of the court in thinking that this question is not to be decided according to any strict technical rules, or even viewed solely by the light which they impart. As I consider it, the question is one of constitutional law; and though the constitution was framed and intended to operate in connection with those systems of law and equity existing in our country at the time of its adoption, and many terms in it can be correctly understood only by resorting to the interpretation of those terms in those bodies of law, yet I concede that, in examining this question, we are to look to the substance and nature of the relation to the suit, and not merely to forms and names; and, therefore, I have inquired whether, if the attorney-general be admitted on the record in accordance with the prayer of his information, the United States will be substantially and really a party to this suit? And, in the first place, I think there can be no substantial distinction in this matter between the United States and the attorney-general. If what is done is sufficient to make him a party, the United States is, in substance and in legal effect, a party. The rights and interests which he brings before the court are the rights and interests of the United States. He presents those rights and interests, not as a trustee in whom they are vested; not as specially empowered by law to sue in his own name for the recovery of something belonging to the government; but he acts simply as an attorney and counsellor at law.

The postmaster-general is empowered by law to bring suits in his own name, in the courts of the United States, upon contracts made with him as the head of a department; and the United States, though exclusively interested, is not deemed a party to the controversy. Osborn v. The Bank of the United States, 9 Wheat. 855. So an executor or administrator, though he may have no beneficial interest in the cause of action, is deemed the party to the suit for the purpose of jurisdiction. 4 Cranch, 308; 8 Wheat. 668; 12 Pet. 171. But, in these and similar cases the officer or executor has, by law, the legal right of action vested in him.

On the other hand, it has been repeatedly decided, that where a law required a bond to be taken in the name of a public officer, but for the benefit of individuals, as in case of sheriffs' bonds, the person for whose use the suit was brought, and not the obligee in whose name it was brought, was the party to the suit, within the meaning of the constitution. Brown et al. v. Strode, 5 Cranch, 303; McNutt v. Bland, 2 How. 1; Huff v. Hutchinson, 14 Ib. 586.

These decisions go much beyond what I maintain in this case. The rights and interests which the attorney-general desires to assert in this case are in no manner and for no purpose vested in him, any more than the rights and interests of the private parties litigating in court are vested in the attorneys and counsel whose names are on the docket, or who argue the causes at the bar.

He is not what was termed, in the cases of Browne et al. v. Strode, and the other cases just referred to, a conduit, through whom the remedy is afforded on a contract made in his name. He is simply a law officer of the government, empowered to act for the United States in this court. In such a case it does not seem to me to admit of a doubt, that whatever is done by him, though in his name, will be done by the United States.

'The case of Georgia v. Brailsford, 2 Dal. 402, was a bill by 'His Excellency, Edward Telfair, Esquire, governor and commander-in-chief in and over the State of Georgia, in behalf of the said State.' The jurisdiction was sustained, as of a suit by the State, and an injunction granted and a trial had at the bar of this court. 4 Dal. 1. Yet, to give the court jurisdiction, a State must be a party on the record. Osborne v. The Bank, 9 Wheat. 738. In this case, the court must have considered the State was made a party on the record by a proceeding in its behalf in the name of its chief executive magistrate. So it was declared by the court, in the case of The Governor of Georgia v. Madrazo, 1 Pet. 122; and in this last-mentioned case it was decided, on great consideration, and after examining all the previous decisions, that a claim filed by the governor of Georgia, in his own name as governor, but in behalf of that State, made the State itself a party to the record, within the meaning of the constitution and laws of the United States.

In Benton, District Attorney of the United States for the Northern District of New York, v. Woolsey et al. 12 Pet. 27, the district attorney of the United States for the northern district of New York had filed an information in his own name to foreclose a mortgage belonging to the United States. The case came to this court by appeal. In delivering the opinion of the court, Mr. Chief Justice Taney said: 'Some doubts were at first entertained by the court, whether this proceeding could be sustained in the form adopted by the district attorney. It is a bill of information and complaint in the name of the district attorney, in behalf of the United States. But upon carefully examining the bill, it appears to be, in substance, a proceeding by the United States, although in form it is in the name of the officer. And we find that this form of proceeding in such cases has been for a long time used without objection in the courts of the United States, held in the State of New York; and was doubtless borrowed from the form used in analogous cases in the courts of the State, where the State itself was the plaintiff in the suit. No objection has been made to it, either in the court below or in this court, on the part of the defendants, and we think the United States may be considered as the real party, although, in form, it is the information and complaint of the district attorney. But although we have come to the conclusion that the proceeding is valid and ought to be sustained by the court, it is certainly desirable that the practice should be uniform in the courts of the United States; and that, in all suits where the United States are the real plaintiffs, the proceedings should be in their name, unless it is otherwise ordered by act of congress.' Now it is plain, that the only ground upon which this proceeding could be sustained, as within the jurisdiction of a court of the United States, was, that an information by a law officer of the government in his own name as such officer, but asserting rights of the United States, is a controversy to which the United States is a party within the meaning of those words in the constitution; for it was only because the United States was a party to the controversy that the jurisdiction attached. It would have been in conformity with what this decision declares to be the correct practice, if this information, and all proceedings which may ensue thereon, were to be in the name of the United States; but it is also in conformity with it to say, that though in the name of the attorney-general, for the United States, the United States will thereby be made a party to this controversy, provided what is done is sufficient to constitute any one a party to it. It remains to inquire whether the rights and privileges claimed by the attorney-general in behalf of the United States, if conceded, will make them a party to this controversy.

It seems to me somewhat difficult to reason about so plain a proposition. The attorney-general has already filed an information, alleging the interest of the United States, and showing what it is and how it arises. If an order is made thereon, allowing him to appear and support those allegations, the United States will appear on the record asserting their interest in this controversy. They will so appear, that they may enjoy the rights of a party to be heard by proper allegations and proofs, and by arguments at the bar. The process of the court must be accorded to them to obtain their proofs, in those modes and under those sanctions appropriated exclusively to the taking of evidence to be used in judicial controversies. They are to be at liberty to oppose the pretensions of the other parties, and to assert and maintain their own, in a regular course of judicature; and they, in common with the others, are to be bound by the decree, which is to be the product of their allegations, proofs, and arguments, as well as of those of the two States of Florida and Georgia.

If all this does not make the United States a party to this controversy, it would be difficult for me to show that it has any parties.

Under our system of jurisprudence, what constitutes a person a party to the record? Is it not sufficient, if it appears by the record that he had a direct interest in the subject-matter of the suit; that he placed before the court in his own name, and not in the name of another, by some appropriate allegations, his claim or defence; that he introduced legal evidence in support of that claim or defence, which was heard by the court; that he was heard by his counsel; that his rights, and what he presented to the court in support of them, were taken into consideration by the court in making a decision; and that these rights were intended to be bound, and in point of law are bound, by the decree? All this must appear from this record, if the United States be allowed to do what has been prayed for.

The attorney-general, in his very learned and able argument, has referred the court not only to the practice of some of the courts of England, but to the Roman law, and to the modern civil law of the continent of Europe, concerning intervention. This practice differs, in details, in the different countries. But so far as I have been able to examine, a third person who comes in after the institution of a suit, to assert a right of his own involved in the controversy, is considered and expressly denominated a party. The definition given in the Code of Practice of Louisiana, which is substantially borrowed from the French Code of Procedure, is: 'An intervention, or interpleader, is a demand by which a third person requires to be permitted to become a party in a suit between other persons, either by joining the plaintiff in claiming the same thing, or something connected with it, or by uniting with the defendant in resisting the claims of the plaintiff; or it may be lawful for him, where his interest requires it, to oppose both.' See also Merlin, Rep. vol. 16, and Recueil, voc. Intervention, Dalloy Dic. s. vocc.

The English law is equally clear. When the attorney-general is brought into a suit between third persons as the representative of the crown, and to protect its rights, though possessed of some privileges which do not belong to private persons, he is not only called a party, but he is treated as one. He is attended with a copy of the bill, and if he does not appear it is considered as a nihil dicit; and if he does appear and fails to answer, the bill is taken pro confesso as against the crown. 1 Dan. Ch. Pr. 169, 170, 531, 548.

Indeed, I am not aware of any case, either in equity or admiralty, or at law, under particular statutes, in which a third person who intervenes, is not considered and called a party. The ground upon which a decree in rem is held to bind all persons, is, that every one having an interest has a right to make himself a party to the cause, and that the seizure or arrest of the thing gives notice to all concerned, of the pendency of the proceedings, and thus enables them to become parties. In Rose v. Himely, 4 Cranch, 277, Chief Justice Marshall states this familiar rule: 'Those on board a vessel are supposed to represent all who are interested in it; and if placed in a situation which enables them to take notice of any proceedings against a vessel and cargo, and enables them to assert the rights of the interested, the cause is considered as properly heard, and all concerned are parties to it.'

And so in equity. Those who come in, even before the master, are, as Lord Redesdale says, (Mit. Pl. 178, 179,) considered parties to the cause in the subsequent proceedings.

With great respect for my brethren, I cannot agree that the reasons advanced by them why the United States will not be a party to the record are sufficient. Those reasons I understand to be, that no decree will be made against the United States, and that the attorney-general will not be allowed to interfere in any way with the pleadings, or proofs, of either the State of Florida or Georgia. As to the first of these reasons, it is cartainly true, that no decree will be made against the United States, in form, or by name; but, if I understand the opinion of the majority of my brethren, they consider as I do, that substance, and not form, is to be looked to in this case; and that the only inducement for allowing the United States to be heard is, that, from the nature of the controversy, all the world must necessarily be precluded by the decree from disputing the correctness of the line of boundary fixed by it. Whether the United States shall or shall not be named in the decree, would seem, therefore, to be formal rather than substantial, since their rights and duties will be the same, whether named or not. In either case, the decree will conclusively operate thereon.

And as to the other reason, that the attorney-general is not to be allowed to interfere with the pleadings or evidence of the States of Florida or Georgia, I must say, with deference for the better opinion of my brethren, that it seems to me to be a restriction which, while it still leaves the United States a party to the suit, deprives them of some of the rights of a party, and to that extent fails to carry out the very principle which requires them to be heard at all.

The right to have this case stated by Florida in the bill, so as to present it in its entire substance, is a substantial and important right of the United States. If the case is defectively or untruly stated there, the decree must be affected thereby, for Georgia has the right to insist that the decree shall conform to the bill. An explicit and full answer to the bill is also material to the United States, that they may know what is to be relied on, and what proofs and arguments are necessary to be adduced. The power to cross-examine witnesses, and to except to proofs when offered, has been deemed essential to the administration of justice. I would respectfully ask, upon what principle known to our jurisprudence, are the United States to be deprived of these rights, if they are admitted at all to contest the claims of Georgia? If both Florida and Georgia may cross-examine the witnesses of the United States, and except to their proofs, what intrinsic propriety or judicial reason can there be, why the latter may not cross-examine the witnesses and except to the proofs of the former?

With submission to a majority of my brethren, I confess it seems to me that to deprive party of some rights which, under all systems of law known to us, are deemed essential, while other rights are allowed to him which can be conceded only to a party to the controversy, proves the embarrassment which was felt in carrying out the idea of making him a party, but does not overcome the difficulty or even avoid it. It appears to me to declare, in effect, justice requires that you should be admitted as a party on this record; but, in order to make some distinction between yourself and other parties, you shall not enjoy all the rights of a party; and the particular rights which you are not to enjoy are, the power of excepting to the pleadings and proofs of the other parties.

This is not satisfactory to my mind. Whether I consider only the substantial relations of the United States to the controversy, or the analogous provisions of positive or customary law in our own and other countries, I cannot avoid the conclusion that if they are admitted upon this record to assert their rights-to show what they are, and how they are involved in this controversy; to maintain them, in the regular course of judicature, by allegation, proof, and argument, against the State of Georgia; to have the process of the court to enable them to do so; to profit by the decree if favorable, to lose by it if adverse-they are a party to this controversy, within the meaning of the constitution of the United States. And this raises the question, which in my opinion is a very grave one, whether the constitution permits the United States to become a party to a controversy between two States, in this court?

The judicial power of the United States extends, among other things, to controversies to which the United States shall be a party-to controversies between two or more States-between a State and citizens of other States or of foreign states, where the State commences the suit, and between a State and foreign states.

In distributing this jurisdiction, the constitution has provided that, in all cases in which a State shall be a party, the supreme court shall have original jurisdiction. In all other cases before mentioned, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction. One of the other cases before mentioned, is a controversy to which the United States is a party.

I am not aware that any doubt has ever been entertained by any one, that controversies to which the United States are a party, come under the appellate jurisdiction of this court in this distribution of jurisdiction by the constitution. Such is the clear meaning of the words of the constitution. So it was construed by the congress, in the judiciary act of 1789, which, by the 11th section, conferred on the circuit courts jurisdiction of cases in which the United States are plaintiffs, and so it has been administered to this day.

There was a case of the United States v. Yale Todd, commenced in this court in 1794, which is not reported, but it is stated from the record, by Mr. Chief Justice Taney, in a note to the case of the United States v. Ferreira, 13 How. 52. Of this case the note says:--

'The case of Yale Todd was docketed by consent in the supreme court, and the court appears to have been of opinion that the act of congress of 1793, directing the secretary of war and the attorney-general to take their opinion upon the question, gave them original jurisdiction. In the early days of the government, the right of congress to give original jurisdiction to the supreme court, in cases not enumerated in the constitution, was maintained by many jurists, and seems to have been entertained by the learned judges who decided Todd's case. But discussion and more mature examination has settled the question otherwise; and it has long been the established doctrine, and we believe now assented to by all who have examined the subject, that the original jurisdiction of this court is confined to the cases specified in the constitution, and that congress cannot enlarge it. In all other cases its power must be appellate.'

The decision of this court, in Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch, 137, settled this construction of the constitution; and, as stated in this note, no one who has examined the subject now questions it.

We have, then, two rules given by the constitution. The one, that if a State be a party, this court shall have original jurisdiction; the other, that if the United States be a party, this court shall have only appellate jurisdiction. And we are as clearly prohibited from taking original jurisdiction of a controversy to which the United States is a party, as we are commanded to take it if a State be a party. Yet, when the United States shall have been admitted on this record to become a party to this controversy, both a State and the United States will be parties to the same controversy. And if each of these clauses of the constitution is to have its literal effect, the one would require and the other prohibit us from taking jurisdiction.

It is not to be admitted that there is any real conflict between these clauses of the constitution, and our plain duty is so to construe them that each may have its just and full effect. This is attended with no real difficulty. When, after enumerating the several distinct classes of cases and controversies to which the judicial power of the United States shall extend, the constitution proceeds to distribute that power between the supreme and inferior courts, it must be understood as referring, throughout, to the classes of cases before enumerated, as distinct from each other.

And when it says: 'in all cases in which a State shall be a party, the supreme court shall have original jurisdiction,' it means, in all the cases before enumerated in which a State shall be a party. Indeed, it says so, in express terms, when it speaks of the other cases where appellate jurisdiction is given.

So that this original jurisdiction, which depends solely on the character of the parties, is confined to the cases in which are those enumerated parties, and those only.

It is true, this course of reasoning leads necessarily to the conclusion that the United States cannot be a party to a judicial controversy with a State in any court.

But this practical result is far from weakening my confidence in the correctness of the reasoning by which it has been arrived at. The constitution of the United States substituted a government acting on individuals, in place of a confederation which legislated for the States in their collective and sovereign capacities. The continued existence of the States, under a republican form of government, is made essential to the existence of the national government. And the fourth section of the fourth article of the constitution pledges the power of the nation to guarantee to every State a republican form of government; to protect each against invasion, and, on application of its legislature or executive, against domestic violence. This conservative duty of the whole towards each of its parts forms no exception to the general proposition, that the constitution confers on the United States powers to govern the people, and not the States.

There is, therefore, nothing in the general plan of the constitution, or in the nature and objects of the powers it confers, or in the relations between the general and state governments, to lead us to expect to find there a grant of power over judicial controversies between the government of the Union and the several States. On the contrary, the agency of courts to compel the States to obey laws of the Union, or to concede to the United States its rights or claims, would naturally be deemed both superfluous and impolitic; superfluous, because the States can act only through individuals, who are directly responsible, both civilly and criminally, to the laws of the United States, which are supreme, and in the courts of the United States, which have jurisdiction to enforce all laws of the United States; and impolitic, because calculated to provoke irritation and resistance, and to excite jealousy and alarm.

It must be remembered, also, that a State can be sued only by its own consent. This consent has been given in the constitution; but only in cases having such parties as are there described. The particular character of the parties to the controversy, into which a State has consented to enter, constitutes not only an essential element in that consent, but it is the sole description of what is agreed to. The State of Georgia has consented to be sued by one or more States, or by foreign states, and by no other person or body politic. The State of Georgia has consented to stand joined as a defendant with one or more States, or with a foreign state, and with citizens or subjects of a State other than the one bringing the suit, but with no other person or body politic. Certainly, there is no power existing in this government to enlarge that consent so as to embrace in it any thing to which it does not, by its terms, extend.

I cannot agree that because the State of Georgia consented to be sued by the State of Florida, Georgia thereby consented to the introduction into the controversy of any party whose rights were so involved in the controversy that the court is bound, upon principles of natural justice, to have that party before the court, in order to make a decree.

In the first place, if it be conceded that a third party, not capable of suing a State, or being sued by one, is a necessary party to a controversy between two States, and that the court cannot make a decree without the presence of that party, it would seem to me to be the legitimate inference, that in such a case the States had not consented to be sued. Having consented to be sued, in controversies having certain described parties, it would seem that a controversy which could not be carried on by them was not one to which the consent applies.

So far as I am aware, the other grants of judicial power by the constitution, which depend on the character of the parties, have been so construed. Has it ever been supposed that into a suit between citizens of different States a third party not competent to sue or be sued, could come or be brought, because he was a necessary party, without whose presence a decree could not be made? Has the doctrine ever been advanced, that when the constitution gave jurisdiction over suits between citizens of different States, it thereby, by implication, authorized that jurisdiction to be extended so as to embrace every person whose rights were so involved in the controversy that the principles of natural justice required him to be heard?

Take the case of a suit between a citizen of Florida and a citizen of Georgia, in the course of which it appears that an inhabitant of this District, who is not competent to sue or capable of being sued, has such an interest in the controversy that the court can make no decree between the parties before them without affecting that interest; has it ever been supposed that there was any implied power granted by the constitution and the 11th section of the judiciary act of 1789 to make him a party, or has the conclusion been that in all such cases the court cannot act at all? The latter, I apprehend, is the settled conclusion. The forty-seventh rule for the equity practice of the circuit courts provides, that if persons who might otherwise be deemed necessary or proper parties to the suit cannot be made so, because their joinder would oust the jurisdiction of the court, as to the parties before the court, the court may, in its discretion, proceed in the cause without making such persons parties; and in such cases the decree shall be without prejudice to the rights of the absent parties. This certainly assumes that there is no implied power, arising out of the necessity of the case, to make them parties, or to bring them into the cause so as to hear and bind them without making them parties. The court is to distribute all the justice it can between the parties over whom it has jurisdiction; but if it can do nothing without the presence of a necessary party, the remedy is not to bring him in, or allow him to come in, but to refuse to act, and leave the parties to terminate their dispute by other means. This is declared by this court in Hagan v. Walker, 14 How. 36, and the earlier cases lead to the same conclusion. Russell v. Clarke's Ex'rs, 7 Cr. 98; Cameron v. Roberts, 3 Wheat. 591; Wormley v. Wormley, 8 Ib. 451; Carneal v. Banks, 10 Ib. 188; West v. Randall, 2 Mason, 195, 196; Shields et al. v. Barrow, ante, p. 130, of the present term.

It is true there is a class of cases in which this court has decided that when the jurisdiction of the circuit court, by reason of the character of the parties, has once attached, it is not devested by one of the parties losing the character which entitled him to sue, or subjected him to be sued in the circuit court, or by his death and administration being granted to a citizen who would not have been competent to sue; and further, that when the judgment operated in rem, as in a suit in ejectment, no change of the property, pendente lite, could prevent the circuit court from exercising its jurisdiction over its own execution. The cases of Morgan's Heirs v. Morgan, 2 Wheat. 297; Mollan v. Torrance, 9 Ib. 537, are of the first class. It was there held that a change of domicile did not defeat the jurisdiction which had once attached. In the case of Clarke v. Mathewson, 12 Pet. 164, it was held that a bill of revivor was but a continuation of the original suit, and that the jurisdiction having once attached was complete, and continued to enable the court to adjudicate on that subject-matter. In Dun v. Clarke, 8 Pet. 1, it was held that the circuit court had jurisdiction of a bill to enjoin the levy of an execution on a judgment in ejectment, thought the land had been devised so that all parties were citizens of the same State.

This was upon the ground that the devisee of the land was to be deemed the mere representative of the plaintiff in the judgment, and that as to him the bill was not an original suit, but a proceeding on the equity side of the court to enable the court to control its own execution; and according to the case of Harris v. Hardeman, 14 How. 334, the same thing might have been done upon motion on the law side of the court. But the court refused to take jurisdiction over the other parties to the bill who had an interest in the land, or to decide the merits of the controversy, and confined itself to staying the execution of the judgment until the merits could be investigated in a suit in a state court.

It will be seen, I think, that none of these cases rest at all on the ground that there is jurisdiction, by implication, over a third party whose rights are such as to make his presence in the cause necessary. But if they did, they would fall far short of proving that such an implication can be made in this case. The constitution is merely silent concerning the introduction of a third person, not competent to sue or be sued in the courts of the Union, into a suit in the circuit courts; but it is not silent concerning controversies to which the United States is a party. It declares, in effect, that over such controversies this court shall not have original jurisdiction; for it makes its jurisdiction over such controversies appellate, and this, as has been long settled, excludes all original jurisdiction over such controversies, and even prevents congress from conferring it. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137. To say that there is an implication that when the United States is a necessary party to an original suit in this court, they can become a party here, would be, in my opinion, not only an extension of the original jurisdiction of this court to a case not described by the constitution as within it, but to a party as to whom we are expressly forbidden to take such jurisdiction.

Nor do I find in the nature and circumstances of this case any such necessity for making the United States a party, as would lay a foundation for the presumption that it must be competent for the court, and consistent with the constitution and laws, to allow it to be done. This is not a broad question, whether in the exercise of the original jurisdiction of this court we are obliged to exclude all third parties, though they may have the most important rights and interests necessarily involved in the suit. I apprehend no such question arises here. I do not doubt that in an original suit in equity here, between two States, or between a State and a foreign state, or between a State as complainant and individuals, or in a suit affecting ambassadors, other public ministers or consuls, any necessary party may be brought in who is competent to be sued by the plaintiff, or to sue the defendant in that suit in this court. Thus, a state may sue here other States, foreign states, all citizens of other States and of foreign states, and this I believe includes every possible party, except its own citizens and inhabitants of this District, and of the territories, and the United States. Setting aside residents of this District and of the territories, who cannot be deemed of great moment in this particular matter, and citizens of the State bringing the suit, whose rights the constitution evidently considers need no protection from this government, the practical effect of the doctrine I maintain will be found to be confined to the United States. They cannot be made a party to such a suit; and, in my judgment, it is in accordance with the whole plan of the government, as well as with the particular provisions of the constitution concerning the judicial power, that they should not be able to interpose and assume an adverse position to a State, in a judicial controversy in this court. Besides, I do not find in this case any real necessity to make the United States a party, according to the principles of equity law. A court of equity generally requires all persons who have an interest in a suit to be made parties. But it is a familiar rule, that when it is impracticable to bring before the court all interested, it is enough to make such parties as have a common interest with those who are absent. In such a case, the parties who are present represent the rights of those who are absent, and the court proceeds to make its decree, binding the rights of the absent parties, with the same confidence that justice is done as if they were before the court. Story's Eq. Pl. 97, 112.

Now, what is this case? The interest of Florida and that of the United States are identical. That interest is, to have the boundary line fixed as far to the northward as the proofs will allow. It is true, that what Florida seeks is the protection of its rightful jurisdiction as a sovereign State; and what the United States desire is the protection of its title as a landholder, and as the grantor of lands now held by their grantees. But both the political jurisdiction of Florida, and the title of the United States to land acquired from Spain, being coextensive with the territory of Florida, these two parties have a common interest in the subject-matter of this suit; and Florida is, in the contemplation of a court of equity, competent to represent the interest of the United States, as an owner of land.

This would certainly be true in the case of individual parties, and in my opinion the same rule applies with still greater force to these parties. Florida is a sovereign State, whose suit must be conducted according to the will of its legislature. There is no room for any suspicion of any unworthy motives or conduct in its management. It is a high duty of that State, which it owes to itself, and which will doubtless be discharged to vindicate its jurisdictional rights, and make good its claims to all the territory which comes within its true limits. Though the question is merely where a line should be run, that line carries with it the sovereignty and territorial jurisdiction of States.

On the other hand, the United States is a landholder, whose title may be affected by running the line in one place rather than another. And so will the titles of hundreds of other landholders in this territory, whose interest is precisely the same as that of the United States, in kind, though not in amount. To say that it is necessary for the purposes of justice, that the United States, as the proprietor of lands, should be admitted into this suit to take care lest the State of Florida should omit something by way of pleading or evidence, seems to me to be yielding to an imaginary necessity only.

It is not alleged that the United States has any interest in this controversy except as an owner or grantor of land. Unquestionably there are political considerations, affecting the federal relations of the States, and connected with the extent of their territory, in reference to which the United States has a direct and important interest. This is not only obvious in itself, but is recognized by the constitution in various ways, and, amongst others, by the prohibition of the States to make any compact without the consent of the United States. But the object of this suit is not to change the limits or territory of States, but to ascertain their true and actual boundary; and in this question the United States has no interest, except that justice should be done; an interest which is not of a character to warrant the government in interposing in this case to assist in securing it, any more than in any other case pending in this court. It is suggested that the counsel for the two States may make agreements as to evidence, and other matters respecting the suit, and that the United States ought to be a party, in order to supervise such; but it seems to me that if this were a sufficient reason for making the United States a party in this case, it would apply to all cases between two States; for in all cases such arrangements are as likely to be made as in this one. But if such agreements of counsel, respecting the mode of conducting a suit between two States, could be deemed compacts between those States, within the restraining clause of the 10th section of the first article of the constitution, congress, and not the attorney-general, or this court, must sanction them; and there does not seems to be any satisfactory reason why that officer should be connected with the subject. Any agreement fixing the line of boundary, made by the two States and not sanctioned by congress, would certainly not be executed by this court, which is to decree on the existing rights of the parties, and not upon new rights created by a compact, which is not valid without the assent of congress.

But, if the objection to the jurisdiction could be overcome, I should still be of opinion that the attorney-genera as not authority to make the United States a party to a suit in this court. That officer possesses no powers derived from usage or implied from the name of his office. His powers are only coextensive with his duty; and that is defined by law to be, 'to prosecute and conduct all suits in the supreme court in which the United States shall be concerned.' 1 Stats. at Large, 93. It belongs to congress alone to decide in what cases the United States may be made a party in the courts, and to designate the officers by whom they may be made a party. This power congress has exercised. They have conferred upon the district attorneys power to prosecute all delinquents for crimes and offences cognizable under the authority of the United States, and all civil actions in which the United States shall be concerned. 1 Stats. at Large, 92. By the act of May 29, 1830, § 5, (4 Stats. at Large, 415,) the solicitor of the treasury is empowered to instruct the district attorneys in all matters and proceedings appertaining to suits in which the United States are a party, or interested; and by the 10th section of the same act, the attorney-general is to advise with and direct the solicitor. But no authority is conferred by any law, upon any officer, to make the United States a party to any suit, except as a plaintiff or prosecutor. If the United States be interested in a suit against an individual, and he thinks fit to allow the law officer of the United States to prosecute or defend in his name, I know of no objection to it, and it is very often done. It may be suggested, that as the line of boundary will be fixed by the final decree in this case, and as the rights of the United States will thereby be concluded, it can do them no injury, but may be beneficial to them, to be a party to this cause. If this be so, and the court has jurisdiction, it may afford sufficient reason why congress, in its discretion, should authorize an appearance by the attorney-general in behalf of the United States; but it does not enlarge the power of that officer, or enable him to do what, in my opinion, no law has conferred on him power to do,-to make the United States a party to an original suit in this court.

I am authorized to say that Mr. Justice McLean concurs in this opinion.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).