Chisholm v. Georgia/Separate Blair

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Blair, Justice.

In considering this important case, I have thought it best to pass over all the strictures which have been made on the various European confederations, because, as, on the one hand, their likeness to our own is not sufficiently close to justify any analogical application, so, on the other, they are utterly destitute of any binding authority here. The Constitution of the United States is the only fountain from which I shall draw; the only authority to which I shall appeal. Whatever be the true language of that, it is obligatory upon every member of the Union, for no State could have become a member but by an adoption of it by the people of that State. What then do we find there requiring the submission of individual States to the judicial authority of the United States? This is expressly extended, among other things, to controversies between a State and citizens of another State. Is, then, the case before us one of that description? Undoubtedly it is, unless it may be a sufficient denial to say that it is a controversy between a citizen of one State and another State. Can this change of order be an essential change in the thing intended? And is this alone a sufficient ground from which to conclude that the jurisdiction of this Court reaches the case where a State is plaintiff, but not where it is defendant? In this latter case, should any man be asked whether it was not a controversy between a State and citizen of another State, must not the answer be in the affirmative? A dispute between A. and B. as surely a dispute between B. and A. Both cases, I have no doubt, were intended; and probably the State was first named, [p451] in respect to the dignity of a State. But that very dignity seems to have been thought a sufficient reason for confining the sense to the case where a State is plaintiff. It is, however, a sufficient answer to say that our Constitution most certainly contemplates, in another branch of the cases enumerated, the maintaining a jurisdiction against a State, as defendant; this is unequivocally asserted when the judicial power of the United States is extended to controversies between two or more States; for there, a State must, of necessity, be a defendant. It is extended also to controversies between a State and foreign states; and if the argument taken from the order of designation were good, it would be meant here that this Court might have cognizance of a suit where a State is plaintiff, and some foreign state a defendant, but not where a foreign state brings a suit against a State. This, however, not to mention that the instances may rarely occur when a State may have an opportunity of suing in the American Courts a foreign state, seems to lose sight of the policy which, no doubt, suggested this provision, viz., that no State in the Union should, by withholding justice, have it in its power to embroil the whole Confederacy in disputes of another nature. But if a foreign state, though last named, may, nevertheless, be a plaintiff against an individual State, how can it be said that a controversy between a State and a citizen of another State means, from the mere force of the order of the words, only such cases where a State is plaintiff? After describing, generally, the judicial powers of the United States, the Constitution goes on to speak of it distributively, and gives to the Supreme Court original jurisdiction, among other instances, in the case where a State shall be a party; but is not a State a party a