Ex parte Young/Dissent Harlan
| Ex parte Young
Mr. Justice Harlan, dissenting.
Although the history of this litigation is set forth in the opinion of the court, I deem it appropriate to restate the principal facts of the case in direct connection with my examination of the question upon which the decision turns. That question is whether the suit in the circuit court of the United States was, as to the relief sought against the attorney general of Minnesota, forbidden by the 11th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, declaring that 'the judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.' That examination, I may say at the outset, is entered upon with no little embarrassment, in view of the fact that the views expressed by me are not shared by my brethren. I may also frankly admit embarrassment arising from certain views stated in dissenting opinions heretofore delivered by me which did not, at the time, meet the approval of my brethren, and which I do not now myself entertain. What I shall say in this opinion will be in substantial accord with what the court has heretofore decided, while the opinion of the court departs, as I think, from principles previously announced by it upon full consideration. I propose to adhere to former decisions of the court, whatever may have been once my opinion as to certain aspects of this general question.
The plaintiffs in the suit referred to, Perkins and Shepard, were shareholders of the Northern Pacific Railway Company, and citizens, respectively, of Iowa and Minnesota. The defendants were the railway company, Edward T. Young, attorney general of Minnesota, the several members of the state railroad and warehouse commission, and certain persons who were shippers of freight over the lines of that railway.
The general object of the suit was to prevent compliance with the provisions of certain acts of the Minnesota legislature and certain orders of the state railroad and warehouse commission, indicating the rates which the state permits to be charged for the transportation of passengers and commodities upon railroads within its limits; also, to prevent shippers from bringing actions against the railway company to enforce those acts and orders.
The bill, among other things, prayed that Edward T. Young, 'as attorney general of the state of Minnesota,' and the members of the state railroad and warehouse commission (naming them) be enjoined from all attempts to compel the railway company to put in force the rates or any of them prescribed by said orders, and 'from taking any action, step, or proceeding against said railway company, or any of its officers, directors, agents, or employees, to enforce any penalties or remedies for the violation by said railway company of said orders or either of them;' and that said Young, 'as attorney general,' be enjoined from taking any action, step, or proceeding against the railway company, its officers, agents, or employees, to enforce the penalties and remedies specified in those acts.
The court gave a temporary injunction, as prayed for. The attorney general of Minnesota appeared specially, and, without submitting to or acknowledging the jurisdiction of the court, moved to dismiss the suit as to him, upon the ground that the state had not consented to be sued, and also because the bill was exhibited against him 'as, and only as, the attorney general of the state of Minnesota,' to restrain him, by injunction, from exercising the discretion vested in him to commence appropriate actions, on behalf of the state, to enforce or to test the validity of its laws. He directly raised the question that the suit as to him, in his official capacity, was one against the state, in violation of the 11th Amendment.
In response to an order to show cause why the injunction asked for should not be granted, the attorney general also appeared specially and urged like objections to the suit against him in the circuit court.
After hearing the parties, the court made an order, September 23d, 1907, whereby the railway company, its officers, directors, agents, servants, and employees, were enjoined until the further order of the court from publishing, adopting, or putting into effect the tariffs, rates, or charges specified in the act of April 18th, 1907. The court likewise enjoined the defendant Young, 'as attorney general of the state of Minnesota,' from 'taking or instituting any action, suit, step, or proceeding to enforce the penalties and remedies specified in said act or either thereof, or to compel obedience to said act or compliance therewith or any part thereof.' A like injunction was granted against the defendant shippers.
On the next day, September 24th, 1907, the state of Minnesota, 'on the relation of Edward T. Young, attorney general,' commenced an action in one of its own courts against the Northern Pacific Railway Company, the only relief sought being a mandamus ordering the company to adopt, publish, keep for public inspection, and put into effect, as the rates and charges to be maintained for the transportation of freight between stations in Minnesota, those named and specified in what is known as chapter 232 of the Session Laws of Minnesota for 1907. That was the act which it was the object of the Perkins-Shepard suit in the Federal court to strike down and nullify. An alternative writ of mandamus, such as the state asked, was issued by the state court.
The institution, in the state court, by the state, on the relation of its attorney general, of the mandamus proceeding against the railway company, having been brought to the attention of the Federal circuit court, a rule was issued against the defendant Young to show cause why he should not be punished as for contempt. Answering that rule, he alleged, among other things, that the mandamus proceeding was brought by and on behalf of the state, through him as its attorney general; that in every way posible he had objected to such jurisdiction on the ground that the action was commenced against him solely as the attorney general for Minnesota, in order to prevent him from instituting in the proper courts civil actions for and in the name of the state, to enforce or test the validity of its laws; that there is no other action or proceeding pending or contemplated by this defendant against said railway company, except said proceedings in mandamus hereinbefore referred to. Defendant expressly disclaimed any intention to treat this court with disrespect in the commencement of the proceedings referred to, 'but believing that the decision of this court in this action, holding that it had jurisdiction to enjoin this defendant, as such attorney general, from performing his discretionary official duties, was in conflict with the 11th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, as the same has been interpreted and applied by the United States Supreme Court, defendant believed it to be his duty as such attorney general to commence said mandamus proceedings for and in behalf of the state, and it was in this belief that said proceedings were commenced solely for the purpose of enforcing the said law of the state of Minnesota.'
The rule was heard, and the attorney general was held to be in contempt, the order of the Federal court being: 'Ordered further, that said Edward T. Young forthwith dismiss or cause to be dismissed the suit of the state of Minnesota on the Relation of Edward T. Young, Attorney General, Plaintiff, v. Northern Pacific Railway Company, Defendant, heretofore instituted by him in the district court of the county of Ramsey, second judicial district, state of Minnesota. Ordered further, that for his said contempt said Edward T. Young be fined the sum of $100 and stand committed in the custody of the marshal of this court until the same be paid, and until he purge himself of his contempt by dismissing, or causing to be dismissed, said suit last herein mentioned.'
The present proceeding was commenced by an original application by Young to this court for a writ of habeas corpus. The petitioner, in his application, proceeds upon the ground that he is held in custody in violation of the Constitution of the United States. The petition set out all the steps taken in the suit in the Federal court, alleging, among other things: 'That your petitioner's office as attorney general of the state of Minnesota is established and provided for by the Constitution of the said state, § 1 of article 5 thereof providing as follows, to wit: 'The executive department shall consist of a governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and attorney general, who shall be chosen by the electors of the state.' That neither by statute nor otherwise is your petitioner charged with any special duty of a ministerial character in the doing or not doing of which said complainants in the said bill of complaint or the said Northern Pacific Railway Company had any legal right, and that whatever duties your petitioner had or has with respect to the several matters complained of in the said bill of complaint are of an executive and discretionary nature. That in no case could your petitioner, even though it was his intention so to do, which it was not, deprive the said complainants or the said Northern Pacific Railway Company, or either of them, of any property, nor could he trespass upon their rights in any particular, and that all he could do as attorney general, as aforesaid, and all that it was his duty to do in that capacity, and all that he intended to do or would do, was to commence formal judicial proceedings in the appropriate court of Minnesota against the said Northern Pacific Railway Company, its officers, agents, and employees, to compel the said company, its officers, agents, and servants, to adopt and put in force the schedule of freight rates tariffs, and charges prescribed by said chapter 232, Laws 1907, of the state of Minnesota.' He renewed the objection that the suit instituted by Perkins and Shepard, in so far as the same is against him, was a suit against the state, to prevent his commencing the proposed action in the name of the state, and was in restraint of the state itself, 'and that the said suit is one against the said state, in violation of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and that therefore the same is and was, so far as your petitioner is concerned, beyond the jurisdiction of the said circuit court,' etc.
This statement will sufficiently indicate the nature of the question to be now examined upon its merits.
Let it be observed that the suit instituted by Perkins and Shepard in the circuit court of the United States was, as to the defendant Young, one against him as, and only because he was, attorney general of Minnesota. No relief was sought against him individually, but only in his capacity as attorney general. And the manifest, indeed the avowed and admitted, object of seeking such relief, was to tie the hands of the state so that it could not in any manner or by any mode of proceeding, in its own courts, test the validity of the statutes and orders in question. It would therefore seem clear that within the true meaning of the 11th Amendment the suit brought in the Federal court was one, in legal effect, against the state,-as much so as if the state had been formally named on the record as a party,-and therefore it was a suit to which, under the Amendment, so far as the state or its attorney general was concerned, the judicial power of the United States did not and could not extend. If this proposition be sound it will follow,-indeed, it is conceded that if, so far as relief is sought against the attorney general of Minnesota, this be a suit against the state,-then, the order of the Federal court enjoining that officer from taking any action, suit, step, or proceeding to compel the railway company to obey the Minnesota statute was beyond the jurisdiction of that court and wholly void; in which case, that officer was at liberty to proceed in the discharge of his official duties as defined by the laws of the state, and the order adjudging him to be in contempt for bringing the mandamus proceeding in the state court was a nullity.
The fact that the Federal circuit court had, prior to the institution of the mandamus suit in the state court, preliminarily (but not finally) held the statutes of Minnesota and the orders of its railroad and warehouse commission in question to be in violation of the Constitution of the United States, was no reason why that court should have laid violent hands upon the attorney general of Minnesota, and by its orders have deprived the state of the services of its constitutional law officer in its own courts. Yet that is what was done by the Federal circuit court; for the intangible thing called a state, however extensive its powers, can never appear or be represented or known in any court in a litigated case, except by and through its officers. When, therefore, the Federal court forbade the defendant Young, as attorney general of Minnesota, from taking any action, suit, step, or proceeding whatever looking to the enforcement of the statutes in question, it said in effect to the state of Minnesota: 'It is true that the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or to its people, and it is true that, under the Constitution, the judicial power of the United States does not extend to any suit brought against a state by a citizen of another state or by a citizen or subject of a foreign state, yet the Federal court adjudges that you, the state, although a sovereign for many important governmental purposes, shall not appear in your own courts, by your law officer, with the view of enforcing, or even for determining the validity of, the state enactments which the Federal court has, upon a preliminary hearing, declared to be in violation of the Constitution of the United States.'
This principle, if firmly established, would work a radical change in our governmental system. It would inaugurate a new era in the American judicial system and in the relations of the national and state governments. It would enable the subordinate Federal courts to supervise and control the official action of the states as if they were 'dependencies' or provinces. It would place the states of the Union in a condition of inferiority never dreamed of when the Constitution was adopted or when the 11th Amendment was made a part of the supreme law of the land. I cannot suppose that the great men who framed the Constitution ever thought the time would come when a subordinate Federal court, having no power to compel a state, in its corporate capacity, to appear before it as a litigant, would yet assume to deprive a state of the right to be represented in its own courts by its regular law officer. That is what the court below did, as to Minnesota, when it adjudged that the appearance of the defendant Young in the state court, as the attorney general of Minnesota, representing his state as its chief law officer, was a contempt of the authority of the Federal court, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Too little consequence has been attached to the fact that the courts of the states are under an obligation equally strong with that resting upon the courts of the Union to respect and enforce the provisions of the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and to guard rights secured or guaranteed by that instrument. We must assume-a decent respect for the states requires us to assume-that the state courts will enforce every right secured by the Constitution. If they fail to do so, the party complaining has a clear remedy for the protection of his rights; for he can come by writ of error, in an orderly, judicial way, from the highest court of the state to this tribunal for redress in respect of every right granted or secured by that instrument and denied by the state court. The state courts, it should be remembered, have jurisdiction concurrent with the courts of the United States of all suits of a civil nature, at common law or equity, involving a prescribed amount, arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States. 25 Stat. at L. 434, chap. 866, U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 508. And this court has said: 'A state court of original jurisdiction, having the parties before it, may, consistently with existing Federal legislation, determine cases at law or in equity arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States or involving rights dependent upon such Constitution or laws. Upon the state courts, equally with the courts of the Union, rests the obligation to guard, enforce, and protect every right granted or secured by the Constitution of the United States and the laws made in pursuance thereof, whenever those rights are involved in any suit or proceeding before them; for the judges of the state courts are required to take an oath to support that Constitution, and they are bound by it, and the laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made under their authority, at the supreme law of the land, 'anything in the Constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.' If they fail therein, and withhold or deny rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States, the party aggrieved may bring the case from the highest court of the state in which the question could be decided to this court for final and conclusive determination.' Robb v. Connolly, 111 U.S. 624, 637, 28 L. ed. 542, 547, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep. 544, 551. So that an order of the Federal court preventing the state from having the services of its attorney general in one of its own courts, except at the risk of his being fined and arrested, cannot be justified upon the ground that the question of constitutional law, involved in the enforcement of the statutes in question, was beyond the competency of a state court to consider and determine, primarily, as between the parties before it in a suit brought by the state itself.
At the argument of this case counsel for the railway company insisted that the provisions of the act in question were so drastic that they could be enforced by the state in its own courts with such persistency and in such a manner as, in a very brief period, to have the railway officers and agents all in jail, the business of the company destroyed, and its property confiscated by heavy and successive penalties, before a final judicial decision as to the constitutionality of the act could be obtained. I infer from some language in the court's opinion that these apprehensions are shared by some of my brethren. And this supposed danger to the railway company and its shareholders seems to have been the basis of the action of the Federal circuit court when, by its order directed against the attorney general of Minnesota, it practically excluded the state from its own courts in respect of the issues here involved. But really no such question as to the state statute is here involved or need be now considered; for it cannot possibly arise on the hearing of the present application of that officer for discharge on habeas corpus. The only question now before this court is whether the suit by Perkins and Shepard in the Federal court was not, upon its face, as to the relief sought against the attorney general of Minnesota, a suit against the state. Stated in another form, the question is whether that court may, by operating upon that officer in his official capacity, by means of fine and imprisonment, prevent the state from being represented by its law officer in one of its own courts? If the Federal court could not thus put manacles upon the state so as to prevent it from being represented by its attorney general in its own court and from having the state court pass upon the validity of the state enactment in question in the Perkins-Shepard suit, that is an end to this habeas corpus proceeding, and the attorney general of Minnesota should be discharged by order of this court from custody.
It is to be observed that when the state was, in effect, prohibited by the order of the Federal court from appearing in its own courts, there was no danger, absolutely none whatever, from anything that the attorney general had ever done or proposed to do, that the property of the railway company would be confiscated and its officers and agents imprisoned, beyond the power of that company to stay any wrong done by bringing to this court, in regular order, any final judgment of the state court, in the mandamus suit, which may have been in derogation of a Federal right. When the attorney general instituted the mandamus proceeding in the state court against the railway company there was in force, it must not be forgotten, an order of injunction by the Federal court which prevented that company from obeying the state law. There was consequently no danger from that direction. Besides, the mandamus proceeding was not instituted for the recovery of any of the penalties prescribed by the state law, and therefore no judgment in that case could operate directly upon the property of the railway company or upon the persons of its officers or agents. The attorney general, in his response to the rule against him, assured the Federal court that he did not contemplate any proceeding whatever against the railway company except the one in mandamus. Suppose the mandamus case had been finally decided in the state court,-the way was open for the railway company to preserve any question it made as to its rights under the Constitution, and, in the event of a decision adverse to it in that court, at once to carry the case to the highest court of Minnesota, and thence, by a writ of error, bring it to this court. That course would have served to determine every question of constitutional law raised by the suit in the Federal court in an orderly way, without trampling upon the state, and without interfering, in the meantime, with the operation of the railway property in the accustomed way. Instead of adopting that course,-so manifestly consistent with the dignity and authority of both the Federal and state judicial tribunals,-the Federal court practically closed the state courts against the state itself when it adjudged that the attorney general, without regard to the wishes of the governor of Minnesota, and without reference to his duties as prescribed by the laws of that state, should stand in the custody of the marshal unless he dismissed the mandamus suit. If the Federal court could thus prohibit the law officer of the state from representing it in a suit brought in the state court, why might not the bill in the Federal court be so amended that that court could reach all the district attorneys in Minnesota, and forbid them from bringing to the attention of grand juries and the state courts violations of the state act by the railway company? And if a grand jury was about to inquire into the acts of the railway company in respect of the matter of its rates, why may not the Federal court, proceeding upon the same grounds on which it has moved against the attorney general, enjoin the finding or returning of indictments against the railway company? If an indictment was returned against the railway company, and was about to be tried by a petit jury, why could not the Federal court upon the principles now announced, forbid the jury to proceed against the railway company, and, if it did, punish every petit juryman as for contempt of court? Indeed, why may it not lay its hands on the governor of the state and forbid him from appealing to the courts of Minnesota in the name of the state, to test the validity of the act in question? And why may not the Federal court lay its hands even upon the judge of the state court itself, whenever it proceeds against the railway company under the state law?
The subject-matter of these questions has evidently been considered by this court, and the startling consequences that would result from an affirmative answer to them have not been overlooked; for, in its opinion, I find these observations: 'It is proper to add that the right to enjoin an individual, even though a state official, from commencing suits under circumstances already stated, does not include the power to restrain a court from acting in any case brought before it, either of a civil or criminal nature, nor does it include power to prevent any investigation or action by a grand jury. The latter body is part of the machinery of a criminal court, and an injunction against a state court would be a violation of the whole scheme of our government. If an injunction against an individual is disobeyed, and he commences proceedings before a grand jury or in a court, such disobedience is personal only, and the court or jury can proceed without incurring any penalty on that account. The difference between the power to enjoin an individual from doing certain things, and the power to enjoin courts from proceeding in their own way to exercise jurisdiction, is plain, and no power to do the latter exists because of a power to do the former.' If an order of the Federal court forbidding a state court or its grand jury from attempting to enforce a state enactment would be 'a violation of the whole scheme of our government,' it is difficult to perceive why an order of that court, forbidding the chief law officer and all the district attorneys of a state to represent it in the courts, in a particular case, and practically, in that way, closing the doors of the state court against the state, would not also be inconsistent with the whole scheme of our government, and, therefore, beyond the power of the court to make.
Whether the Minnesota statutes are or are not violative of the Constitution is not, as already suggested, a question in this habeas corpus proceeding. I do not, therefore, stop to consider whether those statutes are repugnant to the Constitution upon the ground that, by their necessary operation, when enforced, they will prevent the railway company from contesting their validity, or upon the ground that they are confiscatory and therefore obnoxious to the requirement of due process of law. While the argument at the bar in support of each of these propositions was confessedly of great force and persuasiveness, those points need not be now examined. I express no opinion about them. Their soundness may, however, be conceded for the purposes of this discussion. Indeed, it may be assumed for the purposes of this discussion that these state enactments are harsh and intemperate and, in some of their features, invalid. But those questions are wholly apart from the present proceeding. If we now consider them we must go out of our way in order to do so. We have no evidence in this proceeding as to the effect which the statutes, if enforced, would have upon the value either of the railway property or of the bonds or stocks of the railway company. The question of their validity has not been finally decided by the circuit court, and we have not before us even the evidence upon which its preliminary injunction was based. The essential and only question now before us or that need be decided is whether an order by the Federal court which prevents the state from being represented in its own courts, by its chief law officer, upon an issue involving the constitutional validity of certain state enactments, does not make a suit against the state within the meaning of the 11th Amendment. If it be a suit of that kind, then, it is conceded, the circuit court was without jurisdiction to fine and imprison the petitioner, and he must be discharged, whatever our views may be as to the validity of those state enactments. This must necessarily be so unless the Amendment has less force and a more restricted meaning now than it had at the time of its adoption, and unless a suit against the attorney general of a state, in his official capacity, is not one against a state under the 11th Amendment when its determination depends upon a question of constitutional power or right under the 14th Amendment. In that view I cannot concur. In my opinion the 11th Amendment has not been modified in the slightest degree as to its scope or meaning by the 14th Amendment, and a suit which, in its essence, is one against the state, remains one of that character and is forbidden even when brought to strike down a state statute alleged to be in violation of that clause of the 14th Amendment, forbidding the deprivation by a state of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. If a suit be commenced in a state court, and involves a right secured by the Federal Constitution, the way is open under our incomparable judicial system to protect that right, first, by the judgment of the state court, and ultimately by the judgment of this court, upon writ of error. But such right cannot be protected by means of a suit which, at the outset, is, directly or in legal effect, one against the state whose action is alleged to be illegal. That mode of redress is absolutely forbidden by the 11th Amendment, and cannot be made legal by mere construction, or by any consideration of the consequences that may follow from the operation of the statute. Parties cannot, in any case, obtain redress by a suit against the state. Such has been the uniform ruling in this court, and it is most unfortunate that it is now declared to be competent for a Federal circuit court, by exerting its authority over the chief law officer of the state, without the consent of the state, to exclude the state, in its sovereign capacity, from its own courts when seeking to have the ruling of those courts as to its powers under its own statutes. Surely, the right of a state to invoke the jurisdiction of its own courts is not less than the right of individuals to invoke the jurisdiction of a Federal court. The preservation of the dignity and sovereignty of the states, within the limits of their constitutional powers, is of the last importance, and vital to the preservation of our system of government. The courts should not permit themselves to be driven by the hardships, real or supposed, of particular cases, to accomplish results, even if they be just results, in a mode forbidden by the fundamental law. The country should never be allowed to think that the Constitution can, in any case, be evaded or amended by mere judicial interpretation, or that its behests may be nullified by an ingenious construction of its provisions.
The importance of the question under consideration is a sufficient justification for such a reference to the authorities as will indicate the precise grounds on which this court has oftentimes proceeded when determining what is and what is not a suit against a state within the meaning of the 11th Amendment. All the cases agree in declaring the incapacity of a Federal court to exercise jurisdiction over a state as a party. But assaults upon the 11th Amendment have oftenest been made in cases in which the effort has been, without making the state a formal party, to control the acts of its officers and agents, by such orders directed to them as will accomplish, by indirection, the same results that could be accomplished by a suit directly against the state, if such a suit were possible. It will be well to look at some of the principal adjudged cases.
The general question was examined in Cunningham v. Macon & B. R. Co. 109 U.S. 446-451, 27 L. ed. 992-994, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. 292-296, 609, where the court said that it was conceded in all the cases, and 'may be accepted as a point of departure unquestioned, that neither a state nor the United States can be sued as defendant in any court in this country without their consent, except in the limited class of cases in which a state may be made a party in the Supreme Court of the United States by virtue of the original jurisdiction conferred on this court by the Constitution.' The court has not in any case departed from this constitutional principle. In Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 U.S. 1, 9, 35 L. ed. 363, 365, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 699, 701, it is said that 'this immunity of a state from suit is absolute and unqualified, and the constitutional provision securing it is not to be so construed as to place the state within the reach of the process of the court. Accordingly, it is equally well settled that a suit against the officers of a state, to compel them to do the acts which constitute a performance by it of its contracts, is, in effect, a suit against the state itself.' In Cunningham v. Macon & B. R. Co., just cited, the distinction was drawn between a suit in which the state is the real party in interest, although not technically a party on the record, and one in which 'an individual is sued in tort for some act injurious to another in regard to person or property, to which his defense is that he has acted under the orders of the government;' in which last case, the court observed, the defendant 'is not sued as, or because he is, the officer of the government, but as an individual, and the court is not ousted of jurisdiction because he asserts authority as such officer.' Let it not be forgotten that the defendant Young was sued, not as an individual or because he had any personal interest in these matters, but as, and solely because be is, an officer of the state, charged with the performance of certain public duties.
In Hagood v. Southern, 117 U.S. 52, 67, 68, 29 L. ed. 805, 810, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 608, 615, 616, which involved the validity of certain scrip alleged to have been issued by the state of South Carolina, it appeared that the state, having denied its obligation to pay, the plaintiff sought relief by simply suing certain state officers, as such, without making the state a formal party. The court said: 'These suits are accurately described as bills for the specific performance of a contract between the complainants and the state of South Carolina, who are the only parties to it. But to these bills the state is not in name made a party defendant, though leave is given to it to become such, if it chooses; and, except with that consent, it could not be brought before the court and be made to appear and defend. And yet it is the actual party to the alleged contract the performance of which is decreed, the one required to perform the decree, and the only party by whom it can be performed. Though not nominally a party to the record, it is the real and only party in interest, the nominal defendants being the officers and agents of the state, having no personal interest in the subject-matter of the suit, and defending only as representing the state. And the things required by the decrees to be done and performed by them are the very things which, when done and performed, constitute a performance of the alleged contract by the state. The state is not only the real party to the controversy, but the real party against which relief is sought by the suit, and the suit is, therefore, substantially within the prohibition of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which declares that 'the judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state." Again: 'If this case is not within the class of those forbidden by the constitutional guaranty to the states of immunity from suits in Federal tribunals, it is difficult to conceive the frame of one which would be. If the state is named as a defendant, it can only be reached either by mesne or final process through its officers and agents, and a judgment against it could neither be obtained nor enforced, except as the public conduct and government of the ideal political body called a state could be reached and affected through its official representatives. A judgment against these latter, in their official and representative capacity, commanding them to perform official functions on behalf of the state according to the dictates and decrees of the court, is, if anything can be, a judicial proceeding against the state itself. If not, it may well be asked, what would constitute such a proceeding? In the present cases the decrees were not only against the defendants in their official capacity, but, that there might be no mistake as to the nature and extent of the duty to be performed, also against their successors in office.' Is it to be said that an order requiring the attorney general of a state to perform certain official functions on behalf of the state is a suit against the state, while an order forbidding him, as attorney general, not to perform an official function on behalf of the state, is not a suit against the state?
The leading case upon the general subject, and one very similar in many important particulars to the present one, is Re Ayers, 123 U.S. 443, 496, 497, 505, 31 L. ed. 216, 226, 227, 229, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164, 178, 183. The facts in that case were briefly these: The legislature of Virginia, in 1887, passed an act which holders of sundry bonds and tax-receivable coupons of that commonwealth alleged to be in violation of their rights under the Constitution of the United States. They instituted a suit in equity in the circuit court of the United States against the attorney general and auditor of Virginia, and against the treasurers and commonwealth attorneys of counties, cities, and towns in Virginia, the relief asked being a decree enjoining and restraining the said state officers, and each of them, from bringing or commencing any suit provided for by the above act of 1887, or from doing anything to put that act into operation. The circuit court entered an order, enjoining the attorney general of Virginia and each and all the state officers named 'from bringing or commencing any suit against any person who has tendered the state of Virginia's tax-receivable coupons in payment of taxes due to said state, as provided for and directed by the act of the legislature of Virginia, approved May 12th, 1887.' Subsequently the circuit court of the United States was informed that the attorney general of Virginia had disobeyed its order of injunction. Thereupon that officer was ruled to show cause why he should not be fined and imprisoned. He responded to the rule, admitting that after being served with the injunction he had instituted a suit, in the state circuit court, against the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, to recover taxes due the state, and alleging 'that he instituted the said suit because he was thereunto required by the act of the general assembly of Virginia, aforesaid, and because he believed this court had no jurisdiction whatever to award the injunction violated.' He disclaimed any intention to treat the court with disrespect, and stated that he had been actuated alone by the desire to have the law properly administered. He was, nevertheless, adjudged guilty of contempt, was required forthwith to dismiss the suit he had brought, was fined $500 for contempt of court, and committed to the custody of the marshal until the fine was paid, and until he purged himself of his contempt by dismissing the suit in the state court. The attorney general then applied directly to this court for a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted, and upon hearing he was released by this court from custody. The order for his discharge recited that the suit in which the injunctions were granted was 'in substance and in law a suit against the state of Virginia,' and 'within the prohibition of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution;' that it was one 'to which the judicial power of the United States does not extend;' that the circuit court was without jurisdiction to entertain it; that all its proceedings in the exercise of jurisdiction were null and void; that it had no authority or power to adjudge the attorney general in contempt; and that his imprisonment was without authority of law. In the opinion in the Ayers Case the court said: 'It follows, therefore, in the present case, that the personal act of the petitioners sought to be restrained by the order of the circuit court, reduced to the mere bringing of an action in the name of and for the state against taxpayers, who, although they may have tendered tax-receivable coupons, are charged as delinquents, cannot be alleged against them as an individual act in violation of any legal or contract rights of such taxpayers.' Again: 'The relief sought is against the defendants, not in their individual, but in their representative, capacity as officers of the state of Virginia. The acts sought to be restrained are the bringing of suits by the state of Virginia in its own name and for its own use. If the state had been made a defendant to this bill by name, charged according to the allegations it now contains,-supposing that such a suit could be maintained,-it would have been subjected to the jurisdiction of the court by process served upon its governor and attorney general, according to the precedents in such cases. New Jersey v. New York, 5 Pet. 284, 288, 290, 8 L. ed. 127, 129; Kentucky v. Dennison, 24 How. 66, 96, 97, 16 L. ed. 717, 725, 726; rule 5 of 1884, 108 U.S. 574, 20 L. ed. 901, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. vii. If a decree could have been rendered enjoining the state from bringing suits against its taxpayers, it would have operated upon the state only through the officers who by law were required to represent it in bringing such suits, viz., the present defendants, its attorney general, and the commonwealth's attorneys for the several counties. For a breach of such an injunction, these officers would be amenable to the court as proceeding in contempt of its authority, and would be liable to punishment therefor by attachment and imprisonment. The nature of the case, as supposed, is identical with that of the case as actually presented in the bill, with the single exception that the state is not named as a defendant. How else can the state be forbidden by judicial process to bring actions in its name, except by constraining the conduct of its officers, its attorneys, and its agents? And if all such officers, attorneys, and agents are personally subjected to the process of the court, so as to forbid their acting in its behalf, how can it be said that the state itself is not subjected to the jurisdiction of the court as an actual and real defendant?' Further: 'The very object and purpose of the 11th Amendment were to prevent the indignity of subjecting a state to the coercive process of judicial tribunals at the instance of private parties. It was thought to be neither becoming nor convenient that the several states of the Union, invested with that large residuum of sovereignty which had not been delegated to the United States, should be summoned as defendants to answer the complaints of private persons, whether citizens of other states or aliens, or that the course of their public policy and the administration of their public affairs should be subject to and controlled by the members of judicial tribunals without their consent, and in favor of individual interests. To secure the manifest purposes of the constitutional exemption guaranteed by the 11th Amendment requires that it should be interpreted, not literally and too narrowly, but fairly, and with such breadth and largeness as effectually to accomplish the substance of its purpose. In this spirit it must be held to cover, not only suits brought against a state by name, but those also against its officers, agents, and representatives where the state, though not named as such, is nevertheless the only real party against which alone in fact the relief is asked, and against which the judgment or decree effectively operates. But this is not intended in any way to impinge upon the principle which justifies suits against individual defendants, who, under color of the authority of unconstitutional legislation by the state, are guilty of personal trespasses and wrongs, nor to forbid suits against officers in their official capacity either to arrest or direct their offcial action by injunction or mandamus, where such suits are authorized by law, and the act to be done or omitted is purely ministerial, in the performance or omission of which the plaintiff has a legal interest.'
It is said that the Ayers Case is not applicable here, because the orders made by the Federal circuit court had for their object to compel Virginia to perform its contract with bondholders, which is not this case. But that difference between the Ayers Case and this case cannot affect the principle involved. The proceeding against the attorney general of Virginia had for its object to compel, by indirection, the performance of the contract which that commonwealth was alleged to have made with bondholders,-such performance, on the part of the state, to be effected by means of orders in a Federal circuit court directly controlling the official action of that officer. The proceeding in the Perkins-Shepard suit against the attorney general of Minnesota had for its object, by means of orders in a Federal circuit court, directed to that officer, to control the action of that state in reference to the enforcement of certain statutes by judicial proceedings commenced in its own courts. The relief sought in each case was to control the state by controlling the conduct of its law officer, against its will. I cannot conceive how the proceeding against the attorney general of Virginia could be deemed a suit against that state, and yet the proceeding against the attorney general of Minnesota is not to be deemed a suit against Minnesota, when the object and effect of the latter proceeding was, beyond all question, to shut that state entirely out of its own courts, and prevent it, through its law officer, from invoking their jurisdiction in a special matter of public concern, involving official duty, about which the state desired to know the views of its own judiciary. In my opinion the decision in the Ayres Case determines this case for the petitioner.
More directly in point, perhaps, for the petitioner Young, is the case of Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U.S. 516, 528-530, 43 L. ed. 535, 541, 542, 19 Sup. Ct. Rep. 269, 274, 275. That suit was brought by the receivers of a railroad company against the governor and attorney general of Alabama. Its object was to prevent the enforcement of the provisions of an Alabama statute prescribing the maximum rates of toll to be charged on a certain bridge across the Tennessee river. The statute imposed a penalty for each time that the owners, lessees, or operators of the bridge demanded or received any higher rate of toll than was prescribed by it. The relief asked was an injunction prohibiting the governor and attorney general of the state and all other persons from instituting any proceeding against the complainants, or either of them, to enforce the statute. An injunction, as prayed for, was granted. In the progress of the cause the solicitor of the district in which the case was pending was made a defendant and the injunction was extended to him. By amended pleadings it was made to appear that the tollgate keepers at the public crossing of the bridge were indicted for collecting tolls in violation of the statute. In the progress of the cause the plaintiffs dismissed the case as to the state, and the cause was discontinued as to the governor. But the case was heard upon the motion to dismiss the bill upon the ground that the suit was one against the state, in violation of the Constitution of the United States.
After stating the principles settled in the Ayers Case and in other cases this court said: 'If these principles be applied in the present case, there is no escape from the conclusion that, although the state of Alabama was dismissed as a party defendant, this suit against its officers is really one against the state. As a state can act only by its officers, an order restraining those officers from taking any steps, by means of judicial proceedings, in execution of the statute of February 9, 1895, § one which restrains the state itself, and the suit is consequently as much against the state as if the state were named as a party defendant on the record. If the individual defendants held possession or were about to take possession of, or to commit any trespass upon, any property belonging to or under the control of the plaintiffs, in violation of the latter's constitutional rights, they could not resist the judicial determination, in a suit against them, of the question of the right to such possession by simply asserting that they held or were entitled to hold the property in their capacity as officers of the state. In the case supposed, they would be compelled to make good the state's claim to the property, and could not shield themselves against suit because of their official character. Tindal v. Wesley, 167 U.S. 204, 222, 42 L. ed. 137, 143, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 770. No such case is before us.' Again, in the same case: 'It is to be observed that neither the attorney general of Alabama nor the solicitor of the eleventh judicial circuit of the state appear to have been charged by law with any special duty in connection with the act of February 9, 1895. In support of the contention that the present suit is not one against the state, reference was made by counsel to several cases, among which were Poindexter v. Greenhow, 114 U.S. 270, 29 L. ed. 185, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 903, 962; Allen v. Baltimore & O. R. Co. 114 U.S. 311, 29 L. ed. 200, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 925, 962; Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 U.S. 1, 35 L. ed. 363, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 699; Re Tyler, 149 U.S. 164, 37 L. ed. 689, 13 Sup. Ct. Rep. 785; Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & T. Co. 154 U.S. 362, 388, 38 L. ed. 1014, 1020, 4 Inters. Com. Rep. 560, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1047; Scott v. Donald, 165 U.S. 58, 41 L. ed. 632, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 265; and Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 42 L. ed. 819, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 418. Upon examination it will be found that the defendants in each of those cases were officers of the state, especially charged with the execution of a state enactment alleged to be unconstitutional, but under the authority of which, it was averred, they were committing or were about to commit some specific wrong or trespass, to the injury of the plaintiff's rights. There is a wide difference between a suit against individuals, holding official positions under a state, to prevent them, under the sanction of an unconstitutional statute, from committing, by some positive act, a wrong or trespass, and a suit against officers of a state merely to test the constitutionality of a state statute, in the enforcement of which those officers will act only by formal judicial proceedings in the courts of the state. In the present case, as we have said, neither of the state officers named held any special relation to the particular statute alleged to be unconstitutional. They were not expressly directed to see to its enforcement. If, because they were law officers of the state, a case could be made for the purpose of testing the constitutionality of the statute, by an injunction suit brought against them, then the constitutionality of every act passed by the legislature could be tested by a suit against the governor and attorney general, based upon the theory that the former, as the executive of the state, was, in a general sense, charged with the execution of all its laws, and the latter, as attorney general, might represent the state in litigation involving the enforcement of its statutes. That would be a very convenient way for obtaining a speedy judicial determination of questions of constitutional law which may be raised by individuals, but it is a mode which cannot be applied to the states of the Union consistently with the fundamental principle that they cannot, without their assent, be brought into any court at the suit of private persons. If their officers commit acts of trespass or wrong to the citizen, they may be individually proceeded against for such trespasses or wrong. Under the view we take of the question, the citizen is not without effective remedy, when proceeded against under a legislative enactment void for repugnancy to the supreme law of the land; for, whatever the form of proceeding against him, he can make his defense upon the ground that the statute is unconstitutional and void. And that question can be ultimately brought to this court for final determination.' I am unable to distinguish that case, in principle, from the one now before us. The Fitts Case is not overruled, but is, I fear, frittered away or put out of sight by unwarranted distinctions.
Two cases in this court are much relied on to support the proposition that the Perkins-Shepard suit in the circuit court is not a suit against the state. I refer to Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & T. Co. 154 U.S. 362, 38 L. ed. 1014, 4 Inters. Com. Rep. 560, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1047, and Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 472, 42 L. ed. 819, 836, 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 418, 422. But each of those cases differs in material respects from the one instituted by Perkins and Shepard in the court below. In the Reagan Case it appears that the very act under which the railroad commission proceeded, authorized the railroad company, or any interested party, if dissatisfled with the action of the commission in establishing rates, to bring suit against that commission in any court, in a named county, with right to appeal to a higher court. This court when combating the suggestion that only the state court had jurisdiction to proceed against the commission, and give relief in respect of the rates it established, said: 'It may be laid down as a general proposition that, whenever a citizen of a state can go into the courts of a state to defend his property against the illegal acts of its officers, a citizen of another state may invoke the jurisdiction of the Federal courts to maintain a like defense. A state cannot tie up a citizen of another state, having property rights within its territory invaded by unauthorized acts of its own officers, to suits for redress in its own courts. Given a case where a suit can be maintained in the courts of the state to protect property rights, a citizen of another state may invoke the jurisdiction of the Federal courts. . . . It comes, therefore, within the very terms of the act. It cannot be doubted that a state, like any other government, can waive exemption from suit.' The declaration of the court in the Reagan Case, that that suit was not, within the true meaning of the 11th Amendment, to be regarded as a suit against the state, must therefore be taken in connection with the declaration in the same case that the state having consented that the commission might be sued in one of its own courts, in respect of the rates established by the statute, must be taken to have waived its immunity from suit in the circuit court of the United States sitting in Texas. In Smyth v. Ames, above cited, which was a suit in a circuit court of the United States, involving the constitutional validity of certain rates established for railroads in Nebraska, it appeared that the statute expressly authorized any railroad company claiming that the rates were unreasonable to bring an action against the state before the supreme court, in the name of the railroad company or companies bringing the same. Thus, the state of Nebraska waived its immunity from suit, and having authorized a suit against itself in one of its courts, in respect of the rates there in question, it could not, according to the decision in the Reagan Case, deny its liability to like suit in a court of the United States. It is true that this court, in its opinion in Smyth v. Ames, did not lay any special stress on the fact that Nebraska, by the statute, agreed that it might be sued, but it took especial care in its extended statement of the case to bring out that fact. Its silence on that point is not extraordinary, in view of the fact, as appears from the opinion of this court, that the question whether that suit was to be deemed one against the state was not discussed at the bar by the Nebraska state board. We there quoted from the Reagan Case these words: 'Whenever a citizen of a state can go into the courts of a state to defend his property against the illegal acts of its officers, a citizen of another state may invoke the jurisdiction of the Federal courts to maintain a like defense. A state cannot tie up a citize of another state, having property rights within its territory invaded by unauthorized acts of its own officers, to suits for redress in its own courts.' That the Reagan and Smyth Cases did not go as far as is now claimed for them is made clear by the later case of Fitts v. McGhee, already referred to, in which the doctrines of Re Ayers were reaffirmed and applied.
We may refer in this connection to Gunter v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. 200 U.S. 273, 291, 50 L. ed. 477, 486, 26 Sup. Ct. Rep. 252, 259, in which case one of the points made was that the circuit court of the United States had no power to restrain the attorney general of South Carolina and the counsel associated with him from prosecuting in the state courts actions authorized by the laws of the state, and hence that the court erred in awarding an injunction against said officers. This court said: 'Support for the proposition is rested upon the terms of the 11th Amendment and the provisions of § 720 of the Revised Statutes (U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 581), forbidding the granting of a writ by any court of the United States to stay proceedings in any court of a state, except in cases where such injunction may be authorized by any law relating to proceedings in bankruptcy. The soundness of the doctrine relied upon is undoubted. Re Ayers, 123 U.S. 443, 31 L. ed. 216, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164; Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U.S. 516, 43 L. ed. 535, 19 Sup. Ct. Rep. 269. The difficulty is that the doctrine is inapplicable to this case. Section 720 of the Revised Statutes was originally adopted in 1793, whilst the 11th Amendment was in process of formation in Congress for submission to the states, and long, therefore, before the ratification of that Amendment. The restrictions embodied in the section were, therefore, but a partial accomplishment of the more comprehensive result effectuated by the prohibitions of the 11th Amendment. Both the statute and the amendment relate to the power of courts of the United States to deal, against the will and consent of a state, with controversies between it and individuals. None of the prohibitions, therefore, of the Amendment or of the statute relate to the power of a Federal court to administer relief in causes where jurisdiction as to a state and its officers has been acquired as a result of the voluntary action of the state in submitting its rights to judicial determination. To confound the two classes of cases is but to overlook the distinction which exists between the power of a court to deal with a subject over which it has jurisdiction and its want of authority to entertain a controversy as to which jurisdiction is not possessed.'
Counsel for the railway company placed some reliance on Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 U.S. 1, 18, 35 L. ed. 363, 368, 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 699, 704, in which the previous cases on the general subject of suits against the states were classified. That case was a suit in equity against certain parties 'who, under the Constitution of Oregon, as governor, secretary of state, and treasurer of state, comprised the board of land commissioners of that state, to restrain and enjoin them from selling and conveying a large amount of land in that state, to which the appellee asserted title.' That suit, in view of the nature of the relief asked, and of the relations of the defendants to the matters involved, was held not to be one against the state within the meaning of the 11th Amendment. But after a review of the facts the court, as explanatory of the conclusion reached by it, took especial care to observe: 'In this connection it must be borne in mind that this suit is not nominally against the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer, as such officers, but against them collectively, as the board of land commissioners.' The present suit is, in terms, against Young 'as attorney general of Minnesota,' and the decree was sought against him as such officer; not against him individually, or as a mere administrative officer charged with certain duties.
One of the cases cited in support of the decision now rendered is Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Missouri R. & Warehouse Comrs. (Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Hickman) 183 U.S. 53, 58, 59, 46 L. ed. 78, 83, 84, 22 Sup. Ct. Rep. 18, 20. But although that particular suit was held not to be one against the state, the case, in respect of the principles announced by the court, is in harmony with the views I have expressed. For the court there says: 'Was the state the real party plaintiff? It was at an early day held by this court, construing the 11th Amendment, that, in all cases where jurisdiction depends on the party, it is the party named in the record. Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 6 L. ed. 204. But that technical construction has yielded to one more in consonance with the spirit of the Amendment, and in Re Ayers, supra, it was ruled upon full consideration that the Amendment covers not only suits against a state by name, but those also against its officers, agents, and representatives where the state, though not named as such, is nevertheless the only real party against which in fact the relief is asked, and against which the judgment or decree effectively operates. And that construction of the Amendment has since been followed.' In the present case, the state, although not named on the record as a party, is the real party whose action it is sought to control.
There are other cases in this court in which the scope and meaning of the 11th Amendment were under consideration, but they need not be cited, for they are well known. They are all cited in Re Ayres, 123 U.S. 443, 500, 31 L. ed. 216, 228, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164, 180. 'The vital principle in all such cases,' this court said in the Ayers Case, 'is that the defendants, though professing to act as officers of the state, are threatening a violation of the personal or property rights of the complainant, for which they are personally and individually liable,' or cases in which the officer sued refused to perform a purely ministerial duty, about which he had no discretion and in the performance of which the plaintiff had a direct interest. The case before us is altogether different. The statutes in question did not impose upon the attorney general of Minnesota any special duty to see to their enforcement. In bringing the mandamus suit he acted under the general authority inhering in him as the chief law officer of his state. He could not become personally liable to the railway company simply because of his bringing the mandamus suit. The attorney general stated that all he did, or contemplated doing, was to bring the mandamus suit. The mere bringing of such a suit could not be alleged against him as an individual, in violation of any legal right of the railway company or its shareholders. Re Ayers, 123 U.S. 443, 496, 31 L. ed. 216, 226, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164. The plaintiffs recognized this fact, and hence did not proceed in their suit upon the ground that the defendant was individually liable. They sued him only as attorney general, and sought a decree against him in his official capacity, not otherwise.
Some reference has been made to Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241, 29 L. ed. 868, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 734, and other cases, that affirm the authority of a Federal court, under existing statutes, to discharge upon habeas corpus, from the custody of a state officer, one who is held in violation of the Federal Constitution for an alleged crime against a state. Those cases are not at all in point in the present discussion. Such a habeas corpus proceeding is ex parte, having for its object only to inquire whether the applicant for the writ is illegally restrained of his liberty. If he is, then the state officer holding him in custody is a trespasser, and cannot defend the wrong or tort committed by him, by pleading his official character. The power in a Federal court to discharge a person from the custody of a trespasser may well exist, and yet the court have no power in a suit before it, by an order directed against the attorney general of a state, as such, to prevent the state from being represented by that officer, as a litigant in one of its own courts. The former cases, it may be argued, come within the decisions which hold that a suit which only seeks to prevent or restrain a trespass upon property or person by one who happens to be a state officer, but is proceeding in violation of the Constitution of the United States, is not a suit against a state within the meaning of the 11th Amendment, but a suit against the trespasser or wrongdoer. But the authority of the Federal court to protect one against a trespass committed or about to be committed by a state officer, in violation of the Constitution of the United States, is very different from the power now asserted, and recognized by this court as existing, to shut out a sovereign state from its own courts by the device of forbidding its attorney general, under the penalty of fine and imprisonment from appearing in such courts in its behalf. The mere bringing of a suit on behalf of a state, by its attorney general, cannot (this court has decided in the Ayers Case) make that officer a trespasser and individually liable to the party sued. To enjoin him from representing the state in such suit is therefore, for every practical or legal purpose, to enjoin the state itself. This court, in Re Debs, 158 U.S. 564, 584, 39 L. ed. 1092, 1102, 15 Sup. Ct. Rep. 900, 906, said: 'Every government, intrusted, by the very terms of its being, with powers and duties to be exercised and discharged for the general welfare, has a right to apply to its own courts for any proper assistance in the exercise of the one and the discharge of the other, and it is no sufficient answer to its appeal to one of those courts that it has no pecuniary interest in the matter. The obligations which it is under to promote the interest of all, and to prevent the wrongdoing of one resulting in injury to the general welfare, is often of itself sufficient to give it a standing in court. This proposition in some of its relations has heretofore received the sanction of this court.' If there be one power that a state possesses, which ought to be deemed beyond the control, in any mode, of the national government or of any of its courts, it is the power by judicial proceedings to appear in its own courts, by its law officer or by attorneys, and seek the guidance of those courts in respect of matters of a justiciable nature. If the state court, by its judgment, in such a suit, should disregard the injunctions of the Federal Constitution, that judgment would be subject to review by this court upon writ of error or appeal.
It will be well now to look at the course of decisions in other Federal courts.
Attention is first directed to Arbuckle v. Blackburn, 65 L.R.A. 864, 871, 51 C. C. A. 122, 130, 113 Fed. 616, 622, which was a suit in equity, one of the principal objects of which was to restrain the enforcement of an act of the Ohio legislature relating to food products, particularly of a named coffee in which the plaintiffs were interested. The circuit court of appeals held that the bill was properly dismissed, saying, among other things: 'What, then, is the object of the injunction sought in this case? It is no more or less than to restrain the officer of the state from bringing prosecutions for violations of an act which such officer is expressly charged to enforce in the only way he is authorized to proceed,-by bringing criminal prosecutions in the name of the state. This is virtually to enjoin the state from proceeding through its duly qualified and acting officers. If the food commissioner may be enjoined from instituting such prosecutions, why may not the prosecuting attorney, or any officer of the state, charged with the execution of the criminal laws of the state? While the state may not be sued, if the bill can be sustained against its officers, it is as effectually prevented from proceeding to enforce its laws as it would be by an action directly against the state. This view of the case, in our judgment, is amply sustained by the cases above cited, and by the later case of Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U.S. 516, 43 L. ed. 535, 19 Sup. Ct. Rep. 259. . . . In so far as this action seeks an injunction against the respondent from proceeding to enforce by prosecution the provisions of the statutes of Ohio above cited, the courts of the United States are deprived of jurisdiction by the 11th Amendment to the Constitution,'
In Union Trust Co. v. Stearns, 119 Fed. 790, 791, 792, 795, the circuit court of the United States for the district of Rhode Island had occasion to consider the scope of the 11th Amendment. The case related to a statute regulating the hours of labor of certain employees of street railways, and imposing a fine for a violation of its provisions. The court, upon an elaborate review of all the cases in this court, dismissed the action. The defendants Stearns and Greenough were, respectively, the attorney general and assistant attorney general of the state. They were not named in the act, nor charged with any special duty in connection therewith. The court said: 'The purpose of the present bill, in substance and effect, is to enjoin the state of Rhode Island from the enforcement of a penal statute. Indietments under the act are brought in the name and on behalf of the state, for the protection of the state. These defendants, the attorney general and his assistant, merely represent the state in such proceedings. They are simply the officers and agents of the state. It is not as individuals, but solely by virtue of their holding such offices, that they prefer and prosecute indictments in the name of the state. A state can only act or be proceeded against through its officers. If a decree could be entered against the state of Rhode Island, enjoining prosecutions under this act, it could only operate against the state through enjoining these defendants. An order restraining the attorney general and his assistant from the enforcement of this statute is an order restraining the state itself. The present suit, therefore, is as much against the state of Rhode Island as if the state itself were named a party defendant.' After referring to Re Ayers, and Fitts v. McGhee, and upon a review of the cases, the court proceeded: 'The defendants Stearns and Greenough hold no special relation to the act of June 1, 1902. They are not specially charged with its execution. They are not thereby constituted a board or commission with administrative powers, nor are they, as individuals, and apart from the official authority under which they act, threatening to seize the property of the complainant, or to commit any wrong or trespass against its personal or property rights. They have no other connection with this statute than the institution of formal judicial proceedings for its enforcement in the courts of the state, in the name and behalf of the state. Upon reason and authority the present bill is a suit against the state of Rhode Island, within the meaning of the 11th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.'
In Morenci Copper Co. v. Freer, 127 Fed. 199, 205, which was an action in equity to restrain and inhibit the defendant, in his official capacity as attorney general of West Virginia, from proceeding to institute an action in the state court for forfeiture of the charter of the plaintiff corporation for a failure to pay a license tax imposed by a state statute, and which statute was alleged to be in violation of the Federal Constitution, the circuit court reviewed the decision of this court upon the question as to what were and what were not suits against the state. The circuit court held that it had no jurisdiction of the case, saying: 'But it may be said, if the court holds that no remedy of this sort will lie in the circuit court of the United States to prevent this breach of a contract by the state of West Virginia by means of the machinery of a law violative of the Constitution of the United States, how are the rights of corporations to be preserved? The answer is that such alleged unconstitutionality is matter of defense to any suit brought for the forfeiture of complainant's charter, and could be set up as an answer and defense to any bill brought for that purpose; and, if the highest court of the state ruled adversely to that contention, appeal would lie to the Supreme Court of the United States. Or the case can be removed to the circuit court of the United States if it presents a case arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States.'
A well-considered case is that of Western U. Teleg. Co. v. Andrews, 154 Fed. 95, 107. In that case the telegraph company sought by bill to enjoin the prosecuting attorneys of the various judicial circuits of Arkansas from instituting any proceeding for penalties for its failure or refusal to comply with the provisions of an act of the legislature of Arkansas relating to foreign corporations doing business in that state and fixing fees, etc. The bill charged that the various prosecuting attorneys would, unless restrained, institute numerous actions for the recovery of the penalties prescribed by the act, which was no less than $1,000 for each alleged violation. The defense was, among other things, that the action was one against the state, and, therefore, prohibited by the Constitution. After a careful review of the adjudged cases in this court and in the subordinate Federal courts, the circuit court held the action to be one against the state, forbidden by the 11th Amendment; saying, among other things: 'The allegations in the bill show that this is an attempt to prevent the state of Arkansas, through its officers, who, by its laws, are merely its attorneys, to represent it in all legal actions in its favor or in which it is interested, from instituting and prosecuting suits for the recovery of penalties incurred for alleged violation of its laws,-actions which can only be instituted in the name of the state and for its use and benefit.'
Upon the fullest consideration and after a careful examination of the authorities, my mind has been brought to the conclusion that no case heretofore determined by this court requires us to hold that the Federal circuit court had authority to forbid the attorney general of Minnesota from representing the state in the mandamus suit in the state court, or to adjudge that he was in contempt and liable to be fined and imprisoned simply because of his having, as attorney general, brought that suit for the state in one of its courts. On the contrary, my conviction is very strong that, if regard be had to former utterances of this court, the suit of Perkins and Shepard in the Federal court, in respect of the relief sought therein against Young, in his official capacity, as attorney general of Minnesota, is to be deemed-under the Ayers and Fitts Cases particularly-a suit against the state, of which the circuit court of the United States could not take cognizance without violating the 11th Amendment of the Constitution. Even if it were held that suits to restrain the instituting of actions directly to recover the prescribed penalties would not be suits against the state, it would not follow that we should go further and hold that a proceeding under which the state was, in effect, denied access, by its attorney general, to its own courts, would be consistent with the 11th Amendment. A different view means, as I think, that although the judicial power of the United States does not extend to any suit expressly brought against a state by a citizen of another state without its consent, or to any suit the legal effect of which is to tie the hands of the state, although not formally named as a party, yet a circuit court of the United States, in a suit brought against the attorney general of a state, may, by orders directed specifically against that officer, control, entirely control, by indirection, the action of the state itself in judicial proceedings in its own courts involving the constitutional validity of its statutes. This court has heretofore held that that could not be done, and that such a result would, for most purposes, practically obliterate the 11th Amendment, and place the states, in vital particulars, as absolutely under the control of the subordinate Federal courts, as if they were capable of being directly sued. I put the matter in this way, because to forbid the attorney general of a state under the penalty of being punished as for contempt) from representing his state in suits of a particular kind, in its own courts, is to forbid the state itself from appearing and being heard in such suits. Neither the words nor the policy of the 11th Amendment will, under our former decisions, justify any order of a Federal court the necessary effect of which will be to exclude a state from its own courts. Such an order, attended by such results, cannot, I submit, be sustained consistently with the powers which the states, according to the uniform declarations of this court, possess under the Constitution. I am justified, by what this court has heretofore declared, in now saying that the men who framed the Constitution, and who caused the adoption of the 11th Amendment, would have been amazed by the suggestion that a state of the Union can be prevented, by an order of a subordinate Federal court, from being represented by its attorney general in a suit brought by it in one of its own courts; and that such an order would be inconsistent with the dignity of the states as involved in their constitutional immunity from the judicial process of the Federal courts (except in the limited cases in which they may constitutionally be made parties in this court), and would be attended by most pernicious results.
I dissent from the opinion and judgment.