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Every judicial officer of a State is required by the Constitution of the United States to bind himself by oath or affirmation to support it, and this obligation compels him to respect every Act of Congress made in pursuance of the Constitution, and every treaty made under the authority of the United States, as, in case of conflict, superior to anything in his State Constitution or laws.

The courts of the national government are complementary to those of the States. Both belong to one judicial system. Rights arising under the laws of the United States may be enforced by a State court as well as by a federal court, and rights arising under a State law by a federal as well as by the State court, unless in cases where there is some special restriction upon its jurisdiction. Such a restriction may be imposed by either government, as respects any right which it creates.

The judicial power of the United States extends only to certain classes of cases. As to some of these it is necessarily exclusive: as to any of the rest Congress can make it such.[Footnote: The Moses Taylor, 4 Wallace's Reports, 411, 429.] On the other hand Congress may assume to invest a State court with power to dispose of a certain matter of federal right, and the State may decline to permit the exercise of such a power. The United States cannot in that manner compel the courts of another government to do their bidding. It would tend to throw on the States a greater burden than they might deem necessary or proper. They provide courts to meet the wants of those looking to their own sovereignties for justice. Thus, although nothing could seem more anomalous than for one sovereignty to confer citizenship in another, the laws of the United States allow naturalization to be obtained by proceedings in State courts. Most aliens who become citizens of the United States do so in that way, because the State courts are more easy of access. But a State can at any time restrict or forbid the use of its courts for such a purpose.[Footnote: Stephens, petitioner, 4 Gray's (Mass.) Reports, 559; State _v._ Judges, 58 N. J. Law Reports, 97; 32 Atlantic Reporter, 743.]

The federal courts can lend their aid to carry into effect a right arising wholly from the statute of a State, even if it affect maritime interests and must be enforced, if at all, through an admiralty court. Admiralty suits, it is true, can only be brought in the courts of the United States, but that is the very reason why, if such a suit gives the only remedy, jurisdiction of it should be entertained in the only sovereignty competent to give relief.[Footnote: The Lottawanna, 21 Wallace's Reports, 558, 580.]

There are many civil cases which can be brought, at the option of the plaintiff, either in a court of the United States or in a State court. Some of these, if brought in a State court, the defendant can, at his option, allow to remain there or remove for trial into the Circuit Court of the United States. Criminal prosecutions by a State may also be removed, under certain conditions, to the Circuit Court of the United States, when the defense is one arising under the laws of the United States.

In any cause tried in a State court, if the decision turns on a claim of right, set up under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, and is against its validity, the losing party, if unable to secure its reversal by appeal to a higher court of the State, can ask such relief from the Supreme Court of the United States.

It will be observed that it is the losing party only who has this remedy. If the State court decides, however erroneously, that the claim of a federal right is well grounded, this is conclusive as respects the controversy in that suit. If all State courts in which the validity of an unconstitutional Act of Congress was contested should uphold it, the courts of the United States would be powerless to right the wrong, unless they were called upon to enforce the statute in some suit brought before them for original trial.

The obvious object of the limitation is to preserve so far as is possible the sovereignty of the States. The courts of the nation are to set aside acts or judgments flowing from that only in case of necessity and to preserve rights flowing from the sovereignty of the nation. For the same reasons, resort can be had to the Supreme Court of the United States only after every right of review given by the laws of the State has been exhausted. Usually this requires one who loses his cause in a trial court to take it up to the State court of last resort. Where, however, this is not permitted by the State law, he may ask for a writ of error from the Supreme Court of the United States to whatever court was the highest to which he was able to remove it; and if, by the State law, he was unable to appeal at all, then the writ will go to the trial court. One of the greatest of Chief Justice Marshall's great opinions was rendered on a writ of error to the quarterly session court for the borough of Norfolk in Virginia, held by the mayor, recorder, and aldermen of the borough.[Footnote: Cohens _v._ Virginia, 6 Wheaton's Reports, 264.]

It was the opinion of Hamilton that an appeal might be given from the State courts to the inferior federal courts, in case of a decision turning on a right claimed under the Constitution or laws of the United States.[Footnote: _Federalist_, No. LXXXII.] This is probably true, but Congress has wisely forborne to make any such provision. It imposes a strain sufficiently great on the sovereignty of a State to subject the judgments of its court of last resort to reversal by the Supreme Court of the nation.

The power to declare a statute void because inconsistent with constitutional provisions belongs to every court in every case in which such a statute is relied on either to support the action or in defense.[Footnote: See Chap. VII.] It therefore belongs, as respects a State statute which may be attacked as inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, to the trial courts of the United States as well as to the Supreme Court. This makes it possible for a District or Circuit Court of the United States to adjudge the statute of a State in which it sits to be unconstitutional and void, although it may have been declared valid by a judgment of the highest court of the State, from which no appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States was ever taken.

However derogatory to the sovereignty of the States the possession of such authority may seem and be, it is evidently a necessary feature of our dual system of government. In some way it was indispensable to provide for maintaining the full powers of the United States against encroachments by State legislation, and also for enforcing all the special limitations on the powers of State legislation which the Constitution of the United States lays down. This could have been done effectually in but two ways: either by giving to Congress or to the President a veto upon State laws; or by leaving the right of control to lie dormant until a necessity for exercising it should arise, and then putting it in the hands of the judiciary. The latter method was clearly open to the least objection.[Footnote: See Hamilton's discussion on this point in the _Federalist_, No. LXXX.]

Jefferson maintained that there was a third, and one which the Constitution expressly provided. This was the calling of a convention of all the States for proposing amendments to it. If, he said, a State on the one hand by her highest authorities asserts a certain line of action to be within her powers, and the United States by their highest authorities deny it, "the ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress, or of two-thirds of the States. Let them decide to which they mean to give an authority claimed by two of their organs."[Footnote: Letter to Mr. Justice Johnson, Tucker, "Life of Thomas Jefferson," II, 455.] There seems a plain fallacy in this proposition. The question to be decided, in case of a conflict of judicial authority, is not which doctrine ought to be adopted, but which was adopted when the Constitution was framed. To amend that instrument and make it something else could not justly be allowed to alter the effect of acts previously done.

But one serious proposition has ever been made to call a national constitutional convention for any such purpose. That was by Kentucky in January, 1861, when civil war was threatened; and it was not pressed. The very delays which would be inevitable in assembling such a body were then a reason for the call, for they would give time for the "sober second thought." The plan, however, seemed and probably was impracticable. The movement toward secession had gone too far.[Footnote: Debates and Proceedings of the National Peace Convention, 45, 61, 67.]

There were many, at the time when the Constitution of the United States was before the people for ratification, who feared that the jurisdiction of their courts would be extended by judicial construction beyond the limits of the grant. New York in her vote of ratification incorporated a declaration that she understood it to be impossible that the jurisdiction of any court of the United States could ever be enlarged "by any fiction." In the Maryland Convention, this sentiment took shape in a proposed amendment to the Constitution adopted by a committee appointed for the purpose, but never reported, "that the Federal courts shall not be entitled to jurisdiction by fictions or collusion."[Footnote: Elliot's Debates, 550; Proceedings Massachusetts Historical Society, XVII, 504-7.] Had such an amendment been proposed and adopted, it would have cut off a large share of the most important cases now brought before the Circuit Courts. In 1787, there were only twenty-seven business corporations in the United States.[Footnote: Report of the American Historical Association for 1902, 267; _American Historical Review_, VIII, 449.] It was not long before they became countless and the large affairs of the country were in their hands. Could they sue and be sued in the courts of the United States?  The decision on this point was that, by force of a pure legal fiction, invented for the purpose, they might be. They were, indeed, not citizens of any State;[Footnote: Paul _v._ Virginia, 8 Wallace Reports, 168.] but the persons who composed them probably were. Therefore, it must be assumed that they certainly were, and also that they were all citizens of the same State and that the State from which incorporation was obtained.[Footnote: Louisville, Cincinnati and Charleston R. R. Co. _v._ Letson, 2 Howard's Reports, 497, 555; Ohio and Mississippi R. R. Co. _v._ Wheeler, I Black's Reports, 286.]

Sir Henry Maine maintained that legal fictions were the rude device of early stages in government, and to add to them disturbed the symmetry of a legal system and was unworthy the approval of modern courts.[Footnote: Ancient Law, 26.] But while they are among the things that it is hard to justify on principle, it is harder to dispense with them in actual practice, as the instance given conspicuously illustrates.

Although the United States are the only depositary of the power of ordering foreign relations, foreign governments are often aggrieved by acts of the courts of a State which the United States have but imperfect means of preventing or rectifying.

In 1841, we were brought to the verge of war with Great Britain by an incident of this nature.

An insurrection broke out in Canada in 1837, and a New York steamboat was chartered to bring supplies across the Niagara River to those engaged in it. One night when she was moored on the New York side of the river a party of loyal Canadians seized and burned her. During the accompanying affray an American was killed. A Canadian named McLeod, who was charged with having fired the fatal shot, was afterwards arrested in New York and indicted for murder. The British government then informed ours that it had ordered the burning of the steamer, and thereupon demanded McLeod's release. Our Secretary of State replied that the prosecution was in the hands of the State of New York, and the United States had no control over it. Lord Palmerston made the affair the subject of a dispatch, in which he stated that McLeod's execution would produce "a war of retaliation and vengeance." The President at once requested the Governor of New York to order a discontinuance of the prosecution. This was declined, but with a promise to grant a pardon in case of conviction.[Footnote: Lothrop, "Life of William H. Seward," 35.] The State courts refused to discharge the prisoner. He was tried on the original charge, but acquitted.

Congress in 1842 did what it could to prevent the recurrence of such a conflict of authority by passing an Act giving the Circuit and District Courts of the United States jurisdiction on _habeas corpus_ proceedings in favor of foreigners held by State authority, who might claim a right of release under the principles of international law.[Footnote: U. S. Revised Statutes, § 762.]

The Circuit Court has since 1875 been given power to entertain original jurisdiction of any causes arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, regardless of the citizenship of the parties, if a value of $2,000 is involved. In all cases, also, of imprisonment by State authority, whether under arrest before trial or after a sentence of conviction, in violation of rights claimed under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, the prisoner may now be summarily discharged on a writ of _habeas corpus_ by a court or judge of the United States. Ordinarily, however, as a matter of comity, he will be left to seek his remedy in the State courts, and if without success there, on a writ of error from the Supreme Court of the United States.[Footnote: _In re_ Neagle, 135 U. S. Reports, 1; _Ex parte_ Royall, 117 U. S. Reports, 241.]

The State courts have no power to release on _habeas corpus_ one who is held under the authority of the United States. If that authority has been illegally exerted, his remedy is in the federal courts alone.[Footnote: Ableman _v._ Booth, 21 Howard's Reports, 506.]

The cases in which a State can be sued in an original suit in the Supreme Court of the United States are defined in the Constitution and, as limited by the eleventh amendment to it, are quite few.

Several such actions have been brought. In the earlier ones, the State declined to recognize the jurisdiction of the court and did not enter an appearance. The court thereupon decided to proceed _ex parte_ on hearing the plaintiff;[Footnote: See New Jersey _v._ New York, 5 Peters' Reports, 283; U. B. Phillips, "Georgia and State Rights;" Report of American Historical Association for 1901, II, 83.] and in the later cases the States have appeared and made defense.

The court, in one of these suits, was asked to issue an injunction in favor of the Cherokee Indians against the State of Georgia to prevent her and her Governor, judges and other officers whatsoever from enforcing certain of her statutes which were alleged to be unconstitutional. The case went off on another point, but the majority of the court intimated it to be their opinion that no such injunction could properly issue against a sovereign State. Marshall thought it savored "too much of the exercise of political power to be within the proper province of the judicial department." Mr. Justice Johnson said that it was an attempt to compel the President of the United States, and by indirection, to do what he had declined to do on the plaintiff's application to him; namely, "to declare war against a State or to use the public force to repel the force and resist the laws of a State."[Footnote: Cherokee Nation _v._ Georgia, 5 Peters' Reports, 1, 19, 29.]

It would be no easy thing to enforce a judgment against a State should it resist. Hence the Supreme Court has been justly reluctant ever to make any order which would take money out of a State treasury, unless in cases where the Treasurer was individually sued, and the money in dispute was not mingled with other public funds. In 1794, four years before the adoption of the eleventh amendment, a judgment against the State of Georgia, authorizing an assessment of general money damages against her, had been entered in the Supreme Court in favor of one Chisholm, to whom she owed a debt. Georgia had refused to enter an appearance in the suit, and in anticipation of this result her House of Representatives had resolved, in 1793, that if any Federal marshal should attempt to levy an execution on such a judgment against the State, it should be a felony, and on conviction he should be hanged. The Senate had not concurred in this measure, but it reflected pretty closely the general state of public feeling in a State largely indebted for what her people thought it belonged to the United States to pay. The eleventh amendment was proposed by Congress during the term of court at which judgment was entered, but not adopted until 1798. Meanwhile, the court had thought best to defer further proceedings, and none were ever taken afterwards. The plaintiff therefore won a barren victory.[Footnote: U. B. Phillips, "Georgia and State Rights," Report of American Historical Association for 1901, II, 25.]

The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States over States is large, for the State is the party in whose name all criminal prosecutions in its courts are brought, and in many of these the defendant sets up some claim under the laws of the United States which is overruled.

Here again, in case of resistance, it would be difficult to enforce a judgment of reversal.

Shortly before the action of the Cherokee Nation for an injunction, the Georgia courts had sentenced Corn Tassel, one of the tribe, to death for murdering another of them. Tassel had claimed that by the laws of the United States and their treaty with his nation he could only be prosecuted before one of his tribal courts. He obtained a writ of error from the Supreme Court to review his case on this ground. It was served, but before it could be heard the day set for his execution had arrived. By the laws of the United States the allowance of the writ of error superseded the sentence until the appeal should be decided. The Governor laid the matter before the legislature, saying that he did not propose to regard any orders from the Supreme Court interfering with those of Georgia courts, and should resist any attempt to enforce them with all the forces at his command. The legislature approved his position,[Footnote: U. B. Phillips, "Georgia and State Rights," Report of American Historical Association for 1901, II, 77.] and Tassel was hanged on the day originally set.[Footnote: "Memoirs of William Wirt," II, 291.] There had been no time to resort again to the Supreme Court for relief, and as soon as he was dead his writ of error fell with him, for such a proceeding is legally terminated if the plaintiff in error dies.

Two years later, Rev. Mr. Worcester, a missionary who had gone to teach the Christian religion to the Cherokees, was convicted in the Superior Court of Gwinnet County on an indictment for residing among them without a license from the State, and sent to the State prison. He appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided that Georgia had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee reservation, and could not require such licenses. The judgment against him was therefore reversed, and an order made "that all proceedings on the said indictment do forever surcease; and that the said Samuel A. Worcester be and hereby is henceforth dismissed therefrom, and that he go thereof quit without day, and that a special mandate do go from this court to the said Superior Court to carry the judgment into execution."[Footnote: Worcester _v._ Georgia, 6 Peters' Reports, 515, 596.] The Superior Court of Gwinnet County paid no respect to this mandate; the Governor of Georgia characterized it as an attempt at usurpation which he should meet in a spirit of determined resistance; and Worcester remained in prison until, on expressing his willingness to abandon any further efforts for his discharge by authority of the judgment on his writ of error, the Governor gave him a pardon on condition of his leaving the State.

A year later, James Grady, who lay under a sentence of death under proceedings similar to those in Tassel's case, like him obtained a writ of error from the Supreme Court of the United States and had it served on the Georgia court, only to find it disregarded. His execution, in spite of the _"supersedeas"_ which goes by law with every such suit, was the last of this series of judicial outrages.[Footnote: "Georgia and State Rights," 83.]

It was unfortunate for the sufferers in these proceedings that they took place at a time when the cry of "State Rights" was particularly loud and general in the South. South Carolina had been quieted with difficulty by Jackson's action in regard to her nullification ordinance, and he did not wish to go farther than he thought it necessary in insisting on the supremacy of the United States.

Since the Civil War, such defiance by a State of the authority of the Supreme Court of the United States has been unknown and would be almost inconceivable. The absolute right of the Supreme Court of the United States to pronounce finally, so far as the States are concerned, upon every question brought before it as to the meaning and effect of the national Constitution, has come to be universally acknowledged.

The courts of a State have the same right, except that it is not final. This the original Judiciary Act of 1789 (Sec. 25) fully recognized. Something like it may belong to a Convention of the whole people of a State, called to act upon its fundamental concerns; for that would represent the sovereignty of the State as a whole in the fullest manner. It was from such a convention that the nullifying ordinance of 1832 proceeded, but the vice of its action was, not so much that it pronounced the protective tariff Acts unconstitutional and void, but that it assumed to deny any right of appeal in litigation growing out of these Acts and the Ordinance of Nullification, from the courts of South Carolina to the courts of the United States. This liberty of appeal in the regular course of judicial procedure is the one thing which keeps the United States in existence.

The law governing the ordinary transactions of life is that of the State where they may have their seat. This was affirmed in the original Judiciary Act,[Footnote: U. S. Revised Statutes, § 721. As "equity follows the law," State legislation creating new equitable rights or varying those formerly established also affects causes in equity in the Federal courts. Brine _v._ Insurance Co., 96 U. S. Reports, 627; but see James _v._ Gray, 131 Federal Reporter, 401.] as a general rule for the courts of the United States in trials at common law. By another Act of Congress,[Footnote: _Ibid_., § 914.] the practice, pleadings, and form and mode of proceeding in civil causes, other than those of equity and admiralty jurisdiction, in the Circuit and District Courts are to conform as nearly as may be to that followed in the State within which these courts may be held.

The State laws which are thus made a rule for the United States courts are the law of the State as it is understood and applied in its own courts. Hence the construction of a State statute, or the doctrines of the common law in a particular State, if definitely settled by the courts of that State, must be followed in subsequent litigation in the federal courts. Where, however, a State court has taken a certain position as to what the law is, and afterwards changes its position, the federal courts are not compelled to change with it, if this would do injustice to one who has meanwhile acted on the faith of the original ruling.[Footnote: Burgess _v._ Seligman, 107 U. S. Reports, 20, and see argument of Daniel Webster in Groves _v._ Slaughter, 15 Peters' Reports, 449, 489.]

Nor are the federal courts, in large questions of a commercial nature, bound always to accept the opinion of a State court as to what the common law of the State may be. The manner in which this doctrine has been evolved is an interesting example of the manner in which law develops by litigation, and new points are struck out in a single case as the joint product of lawyer and judge.[Footnote: See Chaps, XVII, XVIII.]

A bill of exchange drawn in Maine on one Tyson, a merchant in New York, and bearing his acceptance, was indorsed over to one Swift, who took it in good faith before it fell due, in payment of a pre-existing debt. He sued Tyson upon it in the Circuit Court of the United States in Maine. If his rights were as good as if he had paid value for it at the time he received it, he was entitled to recover. If not, his action failed; for the acceptance had been obtained by fraud. It was made in New York. The judicial decisions of that State, contrary to the prevailing opinion as to what was the general common law rule, seemed to favor the view that a pre-existing debt did not stand on as good a footing as a present payment, in support of a claim upon negotiable paper. Samuel Fessenden of Portland, a lawyer of great ability, was his counsel. The cause was submitted on briefs, without oral argument. Mr. Fessenden, admitting that the law of the place where acceptance was made must govern the obligations of Tyson, insisted that the New York decisions were wrong in principle and ought not to be regarded.

  "If," said his brief, "there is any question of law, not local, but widely general in its nature and effects, it is the present question. It is one in which foreigners, the citizens of different States in their contests with each other, nay, every nation of the civilized commercial world, are deeply interested. By all without the United States this Court is looked to as the judiciary of the whole nation, known as the United States, whose commerce and transactions are as widely diffused as is the use of bills of exchange.... How can this Court preserve its control over the reason and affections of the people of the United States; that control in which its usefulness consists, and which its own untrammeled learning and judgment would enable it naturally to maintain; if its records show that it has decided-as it may be compelled to decide if the construction referred to, advocated on the part of the defendant, is established-the same identical question, arising on a bill of exchange, first one way, and then the other, with vacillating inconsistency?"

Mr. Dana, for Tyson, maintained the opposite view with equal ability. "In coming together," he said, "from the respective States, the framers of the Constitution, and our representatives in Congress after them, must be regarded as having had in view the language, laws, and institutions of the States which they represented."

Mr. Justice Story gave the opinion of the court. Referring to the provision in the Judiciary Act (now U. S. Revised Statutes, Sec. 721) above mentioned, on the construction of which the case must turn, "It never," he remarked, "has been supposed by us that the section did apply, or was designed to apply, to questions of a more general nature, not at all dependent upon local statutes or local usages of a fixed and permanent operation, as, for example, to the construction of ordinary contracts or other written instruments, and especially to questions of general commercial law, where the State tribunals are called upon to perform the like functions as ourselves, that is, to ascertain upon general reasoning and legal analogies, what is the true exposition of the contract or instrument, or what is the just rule furnished by the principles of commercial law to govern the case.... The law respecting negotiable instruments may be truly declared in the language of Cicero, adopted by Lord Mansfield in Luke _v._ Lyde, 2 Burr. B., 883, 887, to be in a great measure, not the law of a single country only, but of the commercial world. _Non erit alia lex Romæ, alia Athenis, alia nunc, alia posthac, sed et apud omnes gentes, et omni tempore, una eademque lex obtinebit."_[Footnote: Swift _v._ Tyson, 16 Peters' Reports, 1, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 18.]

This opinion had been submitted to the court for the first time during the evening before it was delivered.[Footnote: _Ibid_., 23.] It could not have received any very close scrutiny. It relied on no authority except that of Cicero, for Lord Mansfield, in the case of Luke _v._ Lyde, was speaking of the law of the sea, which in the nature of things no one nation can prescribe or change. It was not easy to reconcile it with precedents cited by Mr. Dana, in one of which Mr. Justice Chase of the same court had held on the circuit as early as 1798 that the United States had no common law of their own, and that the "common law, therefore, of one State is not the common law of another; but the common law of England is the law of each State, so far as each State has adopted it; and it results from that position, connected with the judicial act, that the common law will always apply to suits between citizen and citizen, whether they are instituted in a Federal, or State, Court."[Footnote: United States _v._ Worrall, 2 Dallas' Reports, 384, 394.] So the Supreme Court itself had said, in 1834, in a famous judgment, concurred in by Mr. Justice Story himself, that "it is clear, there can be no common law of the United States. The federal government is composed of twenty-four sovereign and independent States; each of which may have its local usages, customs and common law. There is no principle which pervades the union and has the authority of law that is not embodied in the constitution or laws of the union. The common law could be made a part of our federal system only by legislative adoption. When, therefore, a common law right is asserted, we must look to the State in which the controversy originated."[Footnote: Wheaton _v._ Peters, 8 Peters' Reports, 658.]

The State courts have looked upon the doctrine announced in Swift _v._ Tyson with an unfriendly eye. In some, its authority is denied.[Footnote: See Porepaugh _v._ Delaware, Lackawanna and Western R. R. Co., 128 Pennsylvania State Reports, 217; 18 Atlantic Reporter, 503.] In none will it affect the disposition of a cause turning upon its own law, and not pending in the federal courts. It has, however, been repeatedly reaffirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, though the later decisions appear to limit its effect to questions growing out of commercial transactions not wholly confined to a single State.[Footnote: Western Union Telegraph Co. _v._ Call Publishing Co., 181 United States Reports, 92. See Article on the Common Law of the Federal Courts, by Edward C. Eliot, _American Law Review_, XXXVI, 498.]

The right of recovery on a cause of action of a commercial nature will therefore often depend on the court which the plaintiff selects. If he sues in a State court, the common law of the State, as the judicial authorities of that State declare it to be, will be applied; if he sues in a court of the United States, the common law of the State as the judicial authorities of the United States declare it to be. Each tribunal will profess to decide by the same rule--the law of the State; but the federal court will really apply the common law of England, as it is generally understood to be, instead of the common law of that State as it is locally understood to be.

The relations between the federal and State courts which have been described obviously present many occasions for conflicts of authority. That such conflicts are so infrequent is mainly due to a spirit of comity, which the judges of each sovereignty should and generally do show to those of the other. The federal courts are also prohibited by Act of Congress from issuing any injunction to stay proceedings in a State court, except in certain cases arising under the bankruptcy laws. Independent of any statute, however, the general principles of jurisprudence forbid any direct attempt either by a court of the State to control the action of a court of the United States or by a court of the United States to control the action of a State court, except to the limited extent for which provision is made in the national Constitution.[Footnote: Diggs _v._ Wolcott, 4 Cranch's Reports, 179; M'Kim _v._ Voorhies, 7 Cranch's Reports, 279.] Each court, this exception aside, exercises powers belonging to an independent sovereign, and therefore subject to control by that sovereign only.

The equitable jurisdiction of the courts of the United States enables them to interfere in disputes arising out of State elections in certain cases in which the claim is set up that rights held under the Constitution or laws of the United States have been violated. Actions for such relief are rare, and instances have occurred in which the remedy has been abused for political purposes.[Footnote: See the proceedings in the case of Kellogg _v._ Warmoth in the United States Circuit Court in Louisiana in 1872. McPherson's "History of Reconstruction," 100-108.]

The centralizing and nationalizing tendencies which set in early in the nineteenth century and were so greatly strengthened by the course of events during and following soon after the Civil War have greatly weakened the position and influence of the State courts. They have thus rendered the State bench less attractive. In 1791, John Rutledge, an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, resigned that office for the Chief Justiceship of South Carolina. During the last half century, several Chief Justices of States have resigned to become Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Associate Justices of Supreme Courts in the smaller States have also frequently resigned to accept the position of District Judge, attracted by the life tenure, larger salary, and retiring pension.