of the citizens of the United States, incapable of being embodied as limitations on State authority or of infringement by the States, even in the absence of express prohibition. Those amendments stand, therefore, precisely as they have always stood; and any rights that were drawn in question must have been rights granted by the Fourteenth Amendment itself expressly, and not by any implied application by it of preëxisting provisions to new subjects.
To establish the claim of the petitioners two elements were necessary: first, the existence of the asserted rights; second, a violation thereof; and conversely to overthrow their claim it was sufficient to show that either one of these elements was wanting; to show that the constitutional provision had not the effect claimed. or that, even if it had, full force had been allowed it.
But a notable difference exists in the character of these two elements. The former is a question of the proper interpretation of the supreme law of the land, and as such within the field over which the highest federal tribunal reigns paramount; it belongs to that class of matters which the Supreme Court of the United States is expressly designed to settle, and for the settlement of which the humblest citizen in the most trifling cause, civil or criminal, arising within the boundaries of the nation, may appeal to it. The latter is a review of the action of a court in most respects wholly independent; a proceeding allowed only as an accessory to the former, and only in cases where the former is necessarily involved. In all questions of construing and interpreting the Constitution the Supreme Court is properly and wisely ordained the ultimate source of authority, and to it all such matters may be brought by appellate proceedings; but it has no power to correct errors committed by State tribunals within their respective jurisdictions, in other matters; and in cases brought before it by writ of error because involving federal questions, its right of review is only given as necessary to a decision whether the judgment rendered shall be reversed or affirmed. Its jurisdiction is limited to the determination of federal questions, and its power to rectifying errors committed in their determination below. It is cause of regret, therefore, that the court should pursue the course in disposing of such a case of assuming, for the purposes of decision, that a right under the Constitution exists, and of limiting its investigation to considering whether in that event the proceedings in the State court were in violation of it.