Virginia v. Rives/Concurrence Field

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Concurring Opinion

United States Supreme Court

100 U.S. 313

Virginia  v.  Rives

Separate opinion of MR. JUSTICE FIELD, in which MR. JUSTICE CLIFFORD concurred.

I concur in the judgment of the court that the prisoners, Lee and Burwell Reynolds, must be returned to the officers of Virginia, from whose custody they were taken; that the prosecution against them must be remanded to the State court from which it was removed; and that a mandamus to the district judge of the Western District of Virginia is the appropriate remedy to effect these ends. But as I do not agree with all the views expressed in the opinion of the court, and there are other reasons equally cogent with those given for the decision rendered, I deem it proper to state at length the grounds of my concurrence.

The prisoners were jointly indicted in a county court for the crime of murder. They are colored men, and the person alleged to have been murdered was a white man. On being arraigned they pleaded not guilty, and on their demand were remanded to the Circuit Court of the county for trial. When brought before that court, at the April Term of 1878, they moved that the venire of jurors, then composed entirely of persons of the white race, should be modified so as to allow one-third of the venire to be composed of persons of their own race. This motion was denied, on the ground that the court had no authority to change the venire, and that it satisfactorily appeared that the jurors had been regularly drawn from the jury-box according to law. The accused then presented a petition for the removal of the prosecution to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia, setting forth the pendency of the criminal prosecution against them, and alleging, in substance, that rights, secured by the law providing for the equal civil rights of all citizens of the United States, were denied to them by the judicial tribunals of the county, inasmuch as their application for a mixed jury had been refused. It further alleged that a strong prejudice existed in the community of the county against them, independent of the merits of their case, on the ground that they were colored persons, and the one whom they were charged to have murdered was a white man; and that from this fact alone they were satisfied they could not obtain an impartial trial before a jury composed exclusively of persons of the white race.

The prayer of this petition was denied and the prisoners were tried separately and convicted of murder, one in the first and the other in the second degree. Both obtained new trials, one by the action of the court of original jurisdiction, and the other by that of the Court of Appeals on a writ of error.

At the October Term of 1878 they were a second time brought up for trial, and before the jury were impanelled again moved the court to remove the prosecution to the Circuit Court of the United States, upon the petition presented at the April Term; but the motion, as before, was denied. They were then tried separately. In one case, the jury disagreed, and the prisoner was remanded to jail to await another trial. In the other case, the prisoner was convicted of murder in the second degree, and his punishment was fixed by the jury at eighteen years' confinement in the penitentiary.

While the prisoners were held in jail, one of them to be again tried, and the other until he could be removed to the penitentiary under his sentence, they procured from the clerk of the court a copy of the record of the proceedings against them, which they presented to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Virginia, then held by Alexander Rives, the district judge, with the petition for removal presented to the State court, and prayed that the prosecutions should be there docketed and proceeded with. That court granted the petition, directed the cases to be placed on its docket, and authorized the clerk to issue a writ of habeas corpus cum causa to the marshal of the district, requiring him to take the petitioners into his custody, and summon for their trial twenty-five jurors to attend at the next term of the court. A writ of habeas corpus cum causa was accordingly issued. Pursuant to its command, the prisoners were removed from the custody of the jailer and taken into the custody of the marshal. Thereupon the Commonwealth of Virginia presented a petition to this court praying for a writ of mandamus to be directed to the district judge, commanding him to order the marshal to redeliver the prisoners to her authorities, upon the ground that the judge in his proceedings had transcended the jurisdiction of his court, and undertaken the exercise of powers not vested by any law of the United States in him or the court held by him. Upon its presentation at the last term an order was issued to the judge to show cause why the writ should not issue as prayed. His return admits the facts as stated, and justifies his action on the ground that the refusal of the State court to set aside the venire summoned for the trial of the prisoners, and to give them a jury composed in part of their own race and color, was a denial to them of 'the equal protection of the laws,' and brought their cases within the provisions of the Revised Statutes for the removal of criminal prosecutions from the State to the Federal courts. The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth contending that the return is insufficient to justify his action, now moves that the writ be issued a prayed.

The application of Virginia is resisted by a denial of the jurisdiction of this court to issue a writ to the district judge in the case; a denial made not only by the counsel for the prisoners, who has been permitted to appear in their behalf, though the proceeding is one directly between the Commonwealth and the district judge, but by the Attorney-General, who has appeared, though not officially, for that officer. The ground of the denial is that the writ can be issued by this court only in the exercise or in aid of its appellate jurisdiction, and that the writ is here prayed in a proceeding which is not appellate but original, because it has its commencement in the presentation of the petition of the Commonwealth.

It is undoubtedly true that, except in cases where, under the Constitution, this court has original jurisdiction, the writ can be issued only in the exercise or in aid of its appellate authority. This was held as long ago as the case of Marbury v. Madison, decided in 1803, and the doctrine has been adhered to ever since; for the obvious reason that, the jurisdiction of the court being original in only a few enumerated cases, all exercise of power in other cases must be in virtue of its appellate jurisdiction. That jurisdiction may, however, be called into exercise in various ways. The term 'appellate' in the Constitution is not used in a restricted sense, but in the broadest sense, as embracing the power to review and correct the proceedings of subordinate tribunals brought before it for examination in the modes provided by law. Congress has prescribed the mode or process by which such proceedings shall be brought before the court. In equity cases, it is by a simple notice that an appeal is taken from the decree or proceeding sought to be reviewed; in common-law cases, it is generally by writ of error; in some cases it is by a writ of prohibition, and in some by that of certiorari, or of mandamus. The mode is one resting entirely in the discretion of Congress. The Judiciary Act of 1789, passed at the first session of Congress after the adoption of the Constitution, declared that the Supreme Court should have appellate jurisdiction from the circuit courts and from courts of the several States in certain cases, and should 'have power to issue writs of prohibition to the district courts, when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and writs of mandamus in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts appointed or persons holding office under the authority of the United States.'

In Marbury v. Madison it was held that the authority given by the act to issue the writ of mandamus to public officers was not warranted by the Constitution, the court observing that it was an essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction that it revises and corrects proceedings in a cause already instituted, and does not create the cause; and that although the writ might be directed to courts, yet to issue it to an officer for the delivery of a paper was in effect the same as to sustain an original action for that paper; and, therefore, seemed to belong not to appellate, but to original jurisdiction. The case in which this language was used was an application to the court to compel Mr. Madison, then Secretary of State, to deliver to Mr. Marbury, as justice of the peace, a commission which had been signed by President Adams and transmitted to the predecessor in office of the Secretary, to be delivered to the appointee. There was, therefore, no action of an inferior tribunal brought up for review, the proceeding being merely to compel an executive officer to perform a ministerial act in which a citizen was interested. The language must, therefore, be limited by the facts of the case. It was not intended to deny the authority of this court to issue the writ to public officers, when the case is one in which it can exercise original jurisdiction; and probably to avoid such an inference the addition was made to the clause we have cited which now appears in the Revised Statutes, so as to allow the writ to issue to public officers only 'where a State or an ambassador or other public minister or a consul or vice-consul is a party,'-that is, in cases where the court has original jurisdiction. Indeed, it is only by such writ that the original jurisdiction of this court can in many cases be exercised. Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Dennison, 24 How. 66. Nor was the language intended to deny that this court can issue the writ to judicial officers where the object is to revise and correct their action in legal proceedings pending in the courts held by them. Though the writ to a subordinate or inferior court may be addressed to the court as such, it is usually directed to the judge thereof, or, if the court is composed of several judges, to such one or more of them as may be authorized to hold its sessions or participate in holding them. The reason assigned is that, in case of disobedience to the writ, the authority to enforce it is exercised over the judges personally who are vested with the power of exercising the functions of the court. High, Extraordinary Legal Remedies, sect. 275. In the present case, the writ is asked against the district judge who, whilst holding the Circuit Court of the Western District of Virginia, made the order which is the subject of complaint, and who, if the writ be granted, will be able to hold that court and carry out its command. There is no sound objection to its issue in this form.

The writ being one of the modes provided by Congress for the exercise of our appellate jurisdiction, the question whether it should be issued in this case is not difficult of solution if, as contended by the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Circuit Court, in taking the prisoners from the custody of her authorities, transcended its jurisdiction. To review that action and set aside what was done under it, the writ is sought. The jurisdiction invoked is, in its nature, appellate; and there is no other mode provided for its exercise in the case at bar than by the writ prayed. Though the petition is the first step taken by the Commonwealth against the judge, the proceeding is not on that account an original suit. The petition is merely the process by which our appellate jurisdiction is invoked.

It is well settled that the writ of mandamus will issue to correct the action of subordinate or inferior courts or judicial officers, where they have exceeded their jurisdiction, and there is no other adequate remedy. 'It issues,' says Blackstone, 'to the judges of any inferior court, commanding them to do justice according to the powers of their office, whenever the same is delayed. For it is the peculiar business of the Court of King's Bench to superintend all inferior tribunals, and therein to enforce the due exercise of those judicial or ministerial powers with which the crown or the legislature have invested them; and this not only by restraining their excesses, but also by quickening their negligence and obviating the denial of justice.' 3 Bl. Com. 110.

It is in accordance, therefore, with the principles and usages of law that this court should issue a mandamus in the cases here enumerated, and thus supervise the proceedings of inferior courts where there is a legal right and there is no other existing legal remedy. 'It is upon this ground,' says Mr. Justice Nelson, 'that the remedy has been applied from an early day,-indeed, since the organization of courts and the admission of attorneys to practise therein down to the present time,-to correct the abuses of the inferior courts in summary proceedings against their officers, and especially against the attorneys and counsellors of the courts. The order disbarring them, or subjecting them to fine or imprisonment, is not reviewable by writ of error, it not being a judgment in the sense of the law for which this writ will lie. Without, therefore, the use of the writ of mandamus, however flagrant the wrong committed against these officers, they would be destitute of any redress.' Ex parte Bradley, 7 Wall. 364. See also Ex parte Robinson, 19 id. 505.

And so in the case at bar, without the use of this writ the greatest possible injury would be inflicted upon the Commonwealth of Virginia, without any redress, if the Circuit Court, as contended, transcended its jurisdiction. In no case, therefore, could the writ be more properly issued in the interests of justice, order, and good government. Nor was there any necessity for a previous demand upon that court, in the way of a motion to remand the prisoners. While the authorities, says Mr. High, in his valuable treatise on the law of mandamus, are not altogether reconcilable as to the necessity of a previous demand and refusal to perform the act which it is sought to coerce, a distinction is made between the cases where the duties to be enforced are of a public nature, affecting the public at large, and those where the duties are of a private nature, affecting only the rights of individuals. 'And while,' continues the author, 'in the latter class of cases, where the person aggrieved claims the immediate and personal benefit of the act or duty whose performance is sought, demand and refusal are held to be necessary as a condition precedent to relief by mandamus; in the former class, the duty being strictly of a public nature, not affecting individual interests, and there being no one specially empowered to demand its performance, there is no necessity for a literal demand and refusal. In such cases the law itself stands in lieu of a demand, and the omission to perform the required duty in place of a refusal.' Extraordinary Legal Remedies, sect. 13.

In this case not only was the duty required of the Circuit Court one of a public nature, in which the Commonwealth of Virginia is interested, but it would have been a useless ceremony to move for an order remanding the prisoners to her authorities, in the face of its direction to the marshal to take them into custody, and its order to docket and proceed with the prosecution against them in the Circuit Court of the United States, and the justification of this action contained in the return of the judge.

The preliminary objections to the exercise of our jurisdiction being disposed of, we are brought to the important inquiry, whether the action of the Circuit Court, in taking the prisoners from the custody of the authorities of Virginia, was authorized under the laws of the United States. The mandamus prayed is to compel the return of the prisoners, as already stated; but the validity of the order directing the marshal to take them into his custody depends upon the legality of the removal of the prosecution from the State to the Federal court. The order to the marshal was the necessary sequence of assuming jurisdiction of the prosecution. The legality of the removal is, therefore, the question for determination. Its legality is denied by Virginia on two grounds: 1st, that the act of Congress (Rev. Stat., sect. 641), upon the provisions of which the respondent relies, does not authorize the removal; and, 2d, that the act, in authorizing a criminal prosecution for an offence against a law of the State to be, before trial, removed from a State court to a Federal court, is unconstitutional and void. In my opinion, both of these grounds are well taken.

Sect. 641 of the Revised Statutes, re-enacting provisions of previous statutes, in terms provides in certain cases for the removal to the circuit courts of the United States of criminal prosecutions commenced in a State court. It declares that 'when any civil suit or criminal prosecution is commenced in any State court, for any cause whatsoever, against any person who is denied or cannot enforce in the judicial tribunals of the State, or in any part of the State where such suit or prosecution is pending, any right secured to him by any law providing for the equal rights of citizens of the United States, or of all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States, or against any officer, civil or military, or other person, for any arrest or imprisonment or other trespass, or wrongs, made or committed by virtue of or under color of authority derived from any law providing for equal rights as aforesaid, or for refusing to do any act on the ground that it would be inconsistent with such law, such suit or prosecution may, upon the petition of such defendant filed in said State court, at any time before the trial or final hearing of the cause, stating the facts and verified by oath, be removed for trial into the next circuit court to be held in the district where it is pending. Upon the filing of such petition all further proceedings in the State courts shall cease.' The section also provides for furnishing the Circuit Court with copies of the process, pleadings, and proceeding of the State court. A subsequent section provides for the issue in such cases of a writ of habeas corpus cum causa to remove the accused, when in actual custody upon process of the State court, to the custody of the marshal of the United States.

By this enactment it appears that, in order to obtain a removal of a prosecution from a State to a Federal court,-except where it is against a public officer or other person for certain trespasses or conduct not material to consider in this connection, the petition of the accused must show a denial of, or an inability to enforce in the tribunals of the State, or of that part of the State where the prosecution is pending, some right secured to him by the law providing for the equal rights of citizens or persons within the jurisdiction of the United States. But how must the denial of a right under such a law, or the accused's inability to enforce it in the judicial tribunals of the State, be made to appear? So far as the accused is concerned, the law requires him to state and verify the facts, and from them the court will determine whether such denial or inability exists. His naked averment of such denial or inability can hardly be deemed sufficient; if it were so, few prosecutions would be retained in a State court for insufficient allegations when the accused imagined he would gain by the removal. Texas v. Gaines, 2 Woods, 344. There must be such a presentation of facts as to lead the court to the conclusion that the averments of the accused are well founded. There are many ways in which a person may be denied his rights, or be unable to enforce them in the tribunals of a State. The denial or inability may arise from direct legislation, depriving him of their enjoyment or the means of their enforcement, or discriminating against him or the class, sect, or race to which he belongs. And it may arise from popular prejudices, passions, or excitement, biassing the minds of jurors and judges. Religious animosities, political controversies, antagonisms of race, and a multitude of other causes will always operate, in a greater or less degree, as impediments to the full enjoyment and enforcement of civil rights. We cannot think that the act of Congress contemplated a denial of, or an inability to enforce, one's rights from these latter and similar causes, and intended to authorize a removal of a prosecution by reason of them from a State to a Federal court. Some of these causes have always existed in some localities in every State, and the remedy for them has been found in a change of the place of trial to other localities where like impediments to impartial action of the tribunals did not exist. The Civil Rights Act, to which reference is made in the section in question, was only intended to secure to the colored race the same rights and privileges as are enjoyed by white persons: it was not designed to relieve them from those obstacles in the enjoyment of their rights to which all other persons are subject, and which grow out of popular prejudices and passions.

The denial of rights or the inability to enforce them, to which the section refers, is, in my opinion, such as arises from legislative action of the State, as, for example, an act excluding colored persons from being witnesses, making contracts, acquiring property, and the like. With respect to obstacles to the enjoyment of rights arising from other causes, persons of the colored race must take their chances of removing or providing against them with the rest of the community.

This conclusion is strengthened by the provisions of the [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]] to the Constitution. The original Civil Rights Act was passed, it is true, before the adoption of that amendment; but great doubt was expressed as to its validity, and to obtain authority for similar legislation, and thus obviate the objections which had been raised to its first section, was one of the objects of the amendment. After its adoption the Civil Rights Act was re-enacted, and upon the first section of that amendment it rests. That section is directed against the State. Its language is that 'no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' As the State, in the administration of its government, acts through its executive, legislative, and judicial departments, the inhibition applies to them. But the executive and judicial departments only construe and enforce the laws of the State; the inhibition, therefore, is in effect against passing and enforcing any laws which are designed to accomplish the ends forbidden. If an executive or judicial officer exercises power with which he is not invested by law, and does unauthorized acts, the State is not responsible for them. The action of the judicial officer in such a case, where the rights of a citizen under the laws of the United States are disregarded, may be reviewed and corrected or reversed by this court: it cannot be imputed to the State, so as to make it evidence that she in her sovereign or legislative capacity denies the rights invaded, or refuses to allow their enforcement. It is merely the ordinary case of an erroneous ruling of an inferior tribunal. Nor can the unauthorized action of an executive officer, impinging upon the rights of the citizen, be taken as evidence of her intention or policy so as to charge upon her a denial of such rights.

If these views are correct, no cause is shown in the petition of the prisoners that justified a removal of the prosecutions against them to the Federal court. No law of Virginia makes any discrimination against persons of the colored race, or excludes them from the jury. The law respecting jurors provides that 'all male citizens, twenty-one years of age and not over sixty, who are entitled to vote and hold office under the Constitution and laws of the State,' with certain exemptions not material to the question presented, may be jurors; and it authorizes an annual selection in each county, by the county judge, from the citizens at large, of from one to three hundred persons, whose names are to be placed in a box, and from them the jurors, grand and petit, of the county are to be drawn. There is no restriction placed upon the county judge in selecting them, except that they shall be such as he shall think 'well qualified to serve as jurors, being persons of sound judgment and free from legal exception.' The mode thus provided, properly carried out, cannot fail to secure competent jurors. Certain it is that no rights of the prisoners are denied by this legislation. The application to the State court, upon the refusal of which the petition was presented, was for a venire composed of one-third of their race,-a proceeding wholly inadmissible in any jury system which obtains in the several States.

From the return of the district judge it would seem that in his judgment the presence of persons of the colored race on the jury is essential to secure to them the 'equal protection of the laws;' but how this conclusion is reached is not apparent, except upon the general theory that such protection can only be afforded to parties when persons of the class to which they belong are allowed to sit on their juries. The correctness of this theory is contradicted by every day's experience. Women are not allowed to sit on juries; are they thereby denied the equal protection of the laws? Foreigners resident in the country are not permitted to act as jurors, yet they are protected in their rights equally with citizens. Persons over sixty years of age in Virginia are disqualified as jurors, yet no one will pretend that they do not enjoy the equal protection of the laws. If when a colored person is indicted for a criminal offence it is essential, to secure to him the equal protection of the laws, that persons of his race should be on the jury by which he is tried, it would seem that the presence of such persons on the bench should be equally essential where the court consists of more than one judge; and that if it should consist of only a single judge, such protection would be impossible. To such an absurd result does the doctrine lead, which the Circuit Court announced as controlling its action.

The equality of protection assured by the [[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|[[Additional amendments to the United States Constitution#Amendment XIV|Fourteenth Amendment]]]]]]]]]]]] to all persons in the State does not imply that they shall be allowed to participate in the administration of its laws, or to hold any of its offices, or to discharge any duties of a public trust. The universality of the protection intended excludes any such inference. Were this not so, aliens resident in the country, or temporarily here, of whom there are many thousands in each State, would be without that equal protection which the amendment declares that no State shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction.

It follows from these views as to the meaning and purpose of the act of Congress that the removal of the prosecution in this case from the State to the Federal court is unauthorized by it; and that the order of the Circuit Court to the marshal to take the prisoners from the custody of the State authorities is illegal and void.

The second objection of the Commonwealth to the legality of the removal is equally conclusive. The prosecution is for the crime of murder, committed within her limits, by persons and at a place subject to her jurisdiction. The offence charged is against her authority and laws, and she alone has the right to inquire into its commission, and to punish the offender. Murder is not an offence against the United States, except when committed on an American vessel on the high seas, or in some port or haven without the jurisdiction of the State, or in the District of Columbia, or in the Territories, or at other places where the national government has exclusive jurisdiction. The offence within the limits of a State, except where jurisdiction has been ceded to the United States, is as much beyond the jurisdiction of these courts as though it had been committed on another continent. The prosecution of the offence in such a case does not, therefore, arise under the Constitution and laws of the United States; and the act of Congress which attempts to give the Federal courts jurisdiction of it is, to my mind, a clear infraction of the Constitution. That instrument defines and limits the judicial power of the United States.

It declares, among other things, that the judicial power shall extend to cases in law and equity arising under the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States, and to various controversies to which a State is a party; but it does not include in its enumeration controversies between a State and its own citizens. There can be no ground, therefore, for the assumption by a Federal court of jurisdiction of offences against the laws of a State. The judicial power granted by the Constitution does not cover any such case or controversy. And whilst it is well settled that the exercise of the power granted may be extended to new cases as they arise under the Constitution and laws, the power itself cannot be enlarged by Congress. The Constitution creating a government of limited powers puts a bound upon those which are judicial as well as those which are legislative, which cannot be lawfully passed.

This view would seem to be conclusive against the validity of the attempted removal of the prosecution in this case from the State court. The Federal court could not in the first instance have taken jurisdiction of the offence charged, and summoned a grand jury to present an indictment against the accused; and if it could not have taken jurisdiction at first, it cannot do so upon a removal of the prosecution to it. The jurisdiction exercised upon the removal is original and not appellate, as is sometimes erroneously asserted; for, as stated by Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, already cited, it is of the essence of appellate jurisdiction that it revises and corrects proceedings already had. The removal is only an indirect mode by which the Federal court acquires original jurisdiction. Railway Company v. Whitton, 13 Wall. 270.

The Constitution, it is to be observed, in the distribution of the judicial power, declares that in the cases enumerated in which a State is a party the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. Its framers seemed to have entertained great respect for the dignity of a State which was to remain sovereign, at least in its reserved powers, notwithstanding the new government, and therefore provided that when a State should have occasion to seek the aid of the judicial power of the new government, or should be brought under its subjection, that power should be invoked only in its highest tribunal. It is difficult to believe that the wise men who sat in the convention which framed the Constitution and advocated its adoption ever contemplated the possibility of a State being required to assert its authority over offenders against its laws in other tribunals than those of its own creation, and least of all in an inferior tribunal of the new government. I do not think I am going too far in asserting that had it been supposed a power so dangerous to the independence of the States, and so calculated to humiliate and degrade them, lurked in any of the provisions of the Constitution, that instrument would never have been adopted.

There are many other difficulties in maintaining the position of the Circuit Court, which the counsel of the accused and the Attorney-General have earnestly defended. If a criminal prosecution of an offender against the laws of a State can be transferred to a Federal court, what officer is to prosecute the case? Is the attorney of the Commonwealth to follow the case from his county, or will the United States district attorney take charge of it? Who is to summon the witnesses and provide for their fees? In whose name is judgment to be pronounced? If the accused is convicted and ordered to be imprisoned, who is to enforce the sentence? If he is deemed worthy of executive clemency, who is to exercise it,-the Governor of the State, or the President of the United States? Can the President pardon for an offence against the State? Can the Governor release from the judgment of a Federal court? These and other questions which might be asked show, as justly observed by the counsel of Virginia, the incongruity and absurdity of the attempted proceeding.

Undoubtedly, if in the progress of a criminal prosecution, as well as in the progress of a civil action, a question arise as to any matter under the Constitution and laws of the United States, upon which the defendant may claim protection, or any benefit in the case, the decision thereon may be reviewed by the Federal judiciary, which can examine the case so far, and so far only, as to determine the correctness of the ruling. If the decision be erroneous in that respect, it may be reversed and a new trial had. Provision for such revision was made in the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, and is retained in the Revised Statutes. That great act was penned by Oliver Ellsworth, a member of the convention which framed the Constitution, and one of the early chief justices of this court. It may be said to reflect the views of the founders of the Republic as to the proper relations between the Federal and State courts. It gives to the Federal courts the ultimate decision of Federal questions, without infringing upon the dignity and independence of the State courts. By it harmony between them is secured, the rights of both Federal and State governments maintained, and every privilege and immunity which the accused could assert under either can be enforced.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).