treat such questions in a broad spirit, and not to apply the rules of law too literally.
Wildenhus’s Case, decided early in January, brought up a point of importance in international law affirming the right of a State to take jurisdiction of a crime committed by a foreigner against a foreigner upon a foreign merchant vessel anchored in one of the ports of the State.
But undoubtedly the cause that has attracted most attention this winter, although it cannot be deemed of such overweening importance, aside from the magnitude of the pecuniary interests involved, is that known as the Telephone Cases. Popular interest in these suits was excited to a high degree, stimulated by a notoriety due to the utter recklessness with which attacks were made by the one side and the other upon all persons, high or low, supposed to be opposed to them. During the whole of each sitting, for the twelve days devoted by the court to hearing the cases argued, the court-room was filled with spectators, eager to witness the conflict. All the parties were represented by counsel of eminence; but the Bell Company had the advantage of a concentration of effort and unity of purpose on the part of its representatives that was far from existing among the appellants, whose interests were distinct and in some degree conflicting, as their counsel took pains to point out. The merits of the controversy, in which no decision has yet been rendered, have been freely canvassed, and those who most carefully followed the proceedings have arrived at very different conclusions.
Not the least reproach upon the memory of the 49th Congress is its failure to provide any relief for the condition of business before the Supreme Court. It has long been notorious that, owing to the over-crowded condition of the docket, no case could be reached for argument, in its regular order, in less than three years after the appeal was filed; and, although the liberal rule allowing any case on the docket to be submitted on printed briefs without argument during the first ninety days of the term prevents any notable increase of delay, and lessens the hardship in many instances, yet the court is unable to make any headway in clearing off its arrears. The evil is a serious one, oppressive to suitors and encouraging frivolous appeals, and it is an evil which the court itself is powerless to remedy.
Anything which tends to lessen the expense of litigation is a source of congratulation, and such will be the effect, as to appeals here, of a rule recently promulgated by the Supreme Court. Heretofore it has been the practice to print the entire transcript of record from the court below, often at an expense of hundreds of dollars, although the questions involved in the appeal might require only a small part of it for their proper determination. The rule announced from the bench on the last Monday in March will go far to stop this; it gives permission to the appellant to print only so much as he deems necessary, unless required by the appellee to print other parts, and, by reserving full power as to allowing costs, the court provides for protecting either side from the unfair exercise of its rights by the other.
Two acts of some importance as to judicial matters were passed at the last session: the one to amend and regulate the law as to the jurisdiction of the United States Circuit Courts, and the other providing for the
- 120 U.S. 1.