Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/244

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the plaintiff, being within the jurisdiction of the court, why is it necessary to bring the non-resident party into court even by constructive service? Divorce in either case will not change the relation of the non-resident party to the laws of the State in which he or she resides; it might, if it were the woman who obtained the divorce, leave the husband a married man without a wife, or, if it were he who obtained the divorce, leave her a married woman without a husband; and if the one thus left should marry again, though the marriage should be held legal, he or she might be punished under the laws of the State for bigamy or adultery. Such is the right of sovereignty each State has over its own subjects. But no State should take jurisdiction to dissolve a marriage contract between parties not situated in a way to render the sentence of dissolution binding, on general principles of law, upon every other State. Yet it is so often done that the cases in one State to set aside divorces obtained in another State are notoriously frequent. There is no subject so intermixed with so much legal rubbish and confusion, none in relation to which there is so much diversity of law and judicial conflict and uncertainty, as that relating to marriage, whether considered as a contract or a status, and none to which the statesman should more earnestly address himself to relieve it of these absurd legal perplexities. But how can uniformity be attained after so many long years of confusion?

Congress should pass a law establishing uniform rules of marriage and divorce throughout the United States. It should declare that the marriage contract is of that kind within the meaning of the Constitution which declares that "no State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts." Where both the parties are domiciled in the same State, it should leave them subject to the laws of the State in which they reside; but, when they become "citizens of different States" for the purpose of divorce, it should require the suit to be brought in the United States courts; and perhaps when woman, as a citizen, becomes co-equal with man before the law, it will in such cases be obliged to do so. This would give the courts jurisdiction of both parties, or the status of both parties, without resorting to legal subterfuge or fiction; and would, where the suit was between "citizens of different States," preserve the individual sovereignty and dignity of the two States. It would also harmonize the foregoing provision of the Constitution which declares that "no State shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts," with the provision which also declares that "full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State"—a harmony that has never heretofore existed. The obligation to give "full faith and credit" to the "public acts" and "judicial proceedings" of a State is reciprocal between States; how then, when the "public acts" of two States are in conflict on the subject of divorce, can one State, in a judicial proceeding by a resident of