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Livingston v. Story/Dissent McLean

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Dissenting Opinion
McLean

United States Supreme Court

34 U.S. 632

Livingston  v.  Story


Mr Justice M'LEAN.

The inferior courts of the United States can only exercise jurisdiction under the laws of congress; and a general law giving equity jurisdiction will apply as well to the courts of the United States in Louisiana, as in any other state in the union. The same may be said as to a general law regulating the exercise of a common law jurisdiction.

But, as it regards the courts of the United States in Louisiana, congress have made an exception from the general law, by the act of 1824. This act provides, 'that the mode of proceeding in civil causes in the courts of the United States, that now are, or hereafter may be established in the state of Louisiana, shall be conformable to the laws directing the mode of practice in the district court of the said state: provided, that the judge of any such court of the United States may alter the times limited or allowed for different proceedings in the state courts, and make, by rule, such other provisions as may be necessary to adapt the said laws of procedure to the organization of such court of the United States; and to avoid any discrepancy, if any such should exist, between such state laws and the laws of the United States.'

The proceedings in the state courts of Louisiana are conformable to the civil law; and the same course of proceeding under the above law, has been adopted in the district court of the United States in that state; and by the judgment of this court, this course of practice has been sustained.

The above act applies to all civil causes, and, of course, embraces all causes both at common law and in chancery; and its provisions apply as forcibly to an equitable jurisdicition, as to one exercised in accordance with the rules of the common law. The peculiar mode of procedure under the Louisiana practice, preserves, substantially, the same forms in affording a remedy in all cases. And whether the ground of action be in the principles of the common law, or in the exercise of an equitable jurisdiction, by this mode of proceeding an adequate remedy is given.

In 'an act further to regulate process in the courts of the United States,' passed in 1828, and which provides for 'proceedings in equity, according to the principles, rules and usages which belong to courts of equity,' &c., it is declared, that its provisions shall not be extended to any court of the United States in Louisiana.

No stronger legislative provision could have been adopted to show that congress did not consider that the 'principles, rules and usages which belong to courts of equity,' were in force in that state. And this view was, in my opinion, correct, as the law of 1824 had made the federal court practice in Louisiana, an exception to the general law on the subject.

If the principles, rules and usages, which belong to courts of equity, are to be regarded in the district court of Louisiana, the same principle must adopt, in the same court, the rules and usages which belong to courts of common law. But the latter have been abrogated by the act of 1824, agreeably to the decision of this court; and it appears to me, this decision must equally apply to the former. If the act of 1824 be regarded, it must regulate the mode of proceeding in all civil causes, as contradistinguished from criminal ones.


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).