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Pennsylvania v. Quicksilver Company

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

77 U.S. 553

Pennsylvania  v.  Quicksilver Company

ON motion to dismiss an original writ:

The first clause of the second section of the third article of the Constitution ordains that the judicial power shall extend to certain cases named, and among them 'to controversies between a State and the citizens of another State.'

The second clause of this same section provides:

'That in all cases affecting ambassadors, &c., and those in which a State shall be a party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction,' and that 'in all the other cases before mentioned it shall have appellate jurisdiction.'

The 13th section of the Judiciary Act provides:

'That the Supreme Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction of all controversies of a civil nature where a State is a party, except between a State and its citizens, and except also between a State and citizens of another State, or aliens, in which latter case it shall have original, but not exclusive jurisdiction.'

In this state of the law, constitutional and statutory, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania brought an original suit against the Quicksilver Mining Company. The declaration was thus:

'The commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by her attorney-general, complains of the Quicksilver Mining Company, a body politic in the law of, and doing business in, the State of California, of a plea that the said company render unto the said commonwealth the sum of $100,000, &c.'

Mr. M. H. Carpenter, on behalf of the Quicksilver Company, defendant in the case, now moved to dismiss the writ, resting his motion on the ground that as the record did not aver or in any way show that the said company was incorporated by the laws of any other State or nation than those of Pennsylvania, or was resident elsewhere than in that State, no cause of action within the jurisdiction of this court was disclosed.

Mr. F. Carroll Brewster, in support of the jurisdiction:

We admit that the Quicksilver Company was incorporated by Pennsylvania, and we have no knowledge that it is incorporated by California. But it does business in California. Its mines are there; its office, officers, agents and concerns. Citizenship when spoken of in the Constitution in reference to the jurisdiction of the Federal courts, means, as is well settled, nothing more than residence. What then constitutes the residence of a corporation? This seems to have been ruled by McLean, J., [1] in the seventh circuit. The declaration there characterized the plaintiff as 'doing business and resident in the State of New York.' Mr. Stanbery demurred for want of jurisdiction. The opinion of the court is thus:

McLean, J.: 'Where a corporation of another State sues in this court, all allegation of citizenship is not now necessary, as was formerly required. The State where the corporation is located, and in which its corporate functions are exercised, if alleged, is sufficient to give jurisdiction. The demurrer is overruled.'

Now, here we allege that the company is 'a body politic in the law of, and does business in California;' which brings us sufficiently within the language of the opinion cited.

But, independently of this, under the second clause of the second section of the third article of the Constitution, this court has original jurisdiction in all cases where a State is a party; jurisdiction even where the party is one of its own citizens. The language is express, and this view is expressed by Marshall, C. J., and by Thompson, J., in the Cherokee Nation v. The State of Georgia. [2] The former says:

'The second section of the third article of the Constitution describes the extent of the judicial power. The second section closes an enumeration of the cases to which it is extended with 'controversies' between a State or the citizens thereof, and foreign States, citizens or subjects. A subsequent clause of the same section gives the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in all cases in which a State shall be a party. The party defendant may unquestionably be sued in this court.'

The latter says:

'The Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in all cases where a State shall be a party.'

Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  New York and Erie Railroad v. Shepard, 5 McLean, 455.

^2  5 Peters, 15, 52.

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).