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Appeals or writs of error may be taken from the circuit courts direct to the Supreme Court in the following cases :15
“ In any case in which the jurisdiction of the court is in issue; in such cases the question of jurisdiction alone shall be certified to the Supreme Court from the court below for decision.
From final sentences and decrees in prize cases.
In any case that involves the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States.
In any case in which the constitutionality of any law of the United States, or the validity or construction of any treaty made under its authority, is drawn in question.
In any case in which the Constitution or law of a State is claimed to be in contravention of the Constitution of the United States."
In addition to the foregoing enumerated in the act of March 3, 1891, appeals lie in equity suits brought by the United States, and in cases arising under statutes regulating interstate com
$ 560. Appeals from Circuit Courts of Appeal.
All cases in the Circuit Courts of Appeal, not expressly made final, and in which the matter in controversy exceeds one thousand dollars besides costs, may be reviewed by the Supreme Court by appeal or writ of error. Inasmuch, however, as most of the judgments and decisions of the Circuit Courts of Appeal are declared final (namely, all cases in which jurisdiction is dependent entirely upon the citizenship of the parties, and all patent, criminal, revenue, and admiralty cases) this appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is, relatively, inconsiderable.
15 Act of March 3, 1891. 20 Stat. at L. 826, Chap. 517. Act of Jan, 20, 1897. 29 Stat. at L. 492, Chap. 68.
16 An“ infamous” crime is one punishable by imprisonment in a state prison or penitentiary, with or without hard labor. In re Mills, 135 V. S. 263; 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 762; 34 L. ed. 107. In criminal cases, in which a conviction has been had in an inferior federal court without jurisdiction the Supreme Court, though without appellate jurisdiction, will discharge on habeas corpus. Bain's Case, 121 U. S. 1; 7 Sup. Ct. Rep. 781; 30 L, ed. 819; In re Ayers, 123 U. S. 443; 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164; 31 L. ed. 216; Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U. S. 516; 19 Sup. Ct. Rep. 269; 43 L. ed. 535.
The Circuit Court of Appeal may, however, in any case, certify to the Supreme Court any questions of law upon which it wishes the judgment of the Supreme Court; or the Supreme Court may at any time by certiorari or otherwise require a case to be certified to it for review and final determination.
$ 561. Appeals from Territorial and Other Courts.
To the Supreme Court is also given certain appellate jurisdiction in cases determined in the highest courts of the District of Columbia, the Territories, and the Insular Dependencies, in the Court of Claims, and in the Court of Private Land Claims. The constitutionality of this appellate jurisdiction is not now doubted.
8 562. Writs of Error to State Courts.
Appellate jurisdiction is exercised by the Supreme Court by writs of error directed to the highest courts of the State in which a decision could be had, in all cases where is drawn in question the validity of a treaty or statute of, or an authority exercised under, the United States, and the decision is against their validity; or where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under any State, on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, and the decision is in favor of their validity, or where any title, right, privilege or immunity is claimed under the Constitution, or any treaty or statute of, or commission held or authority exercised under, the l'nited States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege or immunity specially set up or claimed, by either party, under such constitution, treaty, statute, commission or authority.”
In such cases the Supreme Court may affirm, reverse or modify the judgment or decree of the state court, and may at its discretion award execution, or remand the same to the court from which it was removed. 17
17 Rev. Stat., § 709. It will be observed that no money limit is placed to writs of error under this section.
The constitutionality of this power of the Supreme Court to revise judgments and decrees of the state courts, a power first given it by Congress in the Judiciary Act of 1789, and ever since continued, has been considered in an earlier chapter of this treatise. 18
In cases brought to the Supreme Court by writs of error from the state courts, the judgment of these courts will not be reversed, whatever construction they may have given to an alleged federal right, if it appear that there was a local law which, rightly interpreted, would sustain the judgment entered or decree given.
In De Saussure v. Gaillard 20 the general rule is declared to be that to give the Supreme Court jurisdiction on a writ of error to a state court, “it must appear affirmatively, not only that a federal question was presented for decision to the highest court of the State having jurisdiction, but that its decision was necessary to the determination of the cause, and that it was actually decided, or that the judgment as rendered could not have been given without deciding it.” And in Johnson v. Risk? this rule is supplemented by the declaration that: “Where there is a federal question, but the case may have been disposed of on some other independent ground, and it does not appear on which of the two grounds the judgment was based, then, if the independent ground was not a good and valid one, sufficient of itself to sustain the judgment, this court will take jurisdiction of the case, because, when put to inference as to what points the state court decided, we ought not to assume that it proceeded on ground clearly untenable. But where a defense is distinctly made, resting on local statutes, we should not, in order to reach a federal question, resort to critical conjecture as to the action of the court in the disposition of such defense.”
18 See Chapter VI.
19 Neilson v. Lagow, 12 How. 98; 13 L. ed. 909; Magwire v. Tyler, 8 Wall. 650;
19 L. ed. 320; Keith v. Clark, 97 U. S. 454; 24 L. ed. 1071; Klinger v. Missouri, 13 Wall. 257; 20 L. ed. 635; Johnson v. Risk, 137 U. S. 300; 11 Sup. Ct. Rep. 11l; 34 L. ed. 683. Cf. Curtis, Jurisdiction of Federal Courts, p. 39.
20 127 U. S. 216; 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1053; 32 L. ed. 125.
8 563. Circuit Courts of Appeal : Jurisdiction.
The Circuit Courts of Appeal have appellate jurisdiction over all cases heard in the Circuit and District Courts, except those which are carried to the Supreme Court. The judgments and deerees thus rendered upon appeal are final except in the few instances enumerated in the preceding section.
8 564. Circuit Courts: Jurisdiction.
The Circuit Courts since the act of 1891 creating the Circuit Courts of Appeal have had only original jurisdiction. This jurisdiction is, however, very wide, including, subject to a pecuniary limitation, most of the subjects which in Article III, Section II, Clause 1, of the Constitution are enumerated as falling within federal judicial cognizance. Thus, in general, any one can sue in a Circuit Court to enforce a right arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States when the matter in controversy is more than $2,000, exclusive of interest and costs. Any suit involving this amount may be brought in the same tribunal if between citizens of different States or citizens of a State and subjects of a foreign State, or citizens of the same State claiming land under grants from different States; and all criminal violations of federal law are there cognizable. This criminal jurisdiction, except as to capital crimes, is concurrently possessed by the District Courts.
Where the United States is plaintiff or petitioner, and where the controversy is between citizens of the same State claiming land under grants from different States, the money limit does not apply. In those cases where the limit does apply it is not necessary that two thousand dollars or more shall be recovered, but that this amount shall be claimed in good faith by the plaintiff.23
23 “ § 1. That the circuit courts of the United States shall have original cognizance, concurrent with the courts of the several States, of all suits of a civil nature, at common law or in equity, where the matter in dispute exceeds, exclusive of interests and costs, the sum or value of two thousand dollars, and arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States, or treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority, The District Courts have no appellate jurisdiction. Their original jurisdiction extends to all crimes, not capital, falling within the federal jurisdiction ;24 all original proceedings in bankruptcy; suits at common law instituted by the United States; suits arising under the postal laws; suits to recover penalties incurred under federal laws; suits against the United States not exceeding $1,000 in amount;25 suits under the Civil Rights Elective Franchise Acts; suit brought by an alien based or in which controversy the United States are plaintiffs or petitioners, or in which there shall be a controversy between citizens of different States, in which the matter in dispute exceeds, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum or valve aforesaid, or a controversy between citizens of the same State claiming lands under grants of different States, or a controversy between citizens of a State and foreign States, citizens, or subjects, in which the matter in dispute exceeds, exclusive of interests and costs, the sum or value aforesaid, and shall have exclusive cognizance of all crimes and offenses cognizable under the authority of the United States, except as otherwise provided by law, and concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts of the crimes and offenses cognizable by them. But no person shall be arrested in one district for trial in another in any civil action before a circuit or district court; and no civil suit shall be brought before either of said courts against any person' by any original process or proceeding in any other district than that whereof he is an inhabitant, but where the jurisdiction is founded only on the fact that the action is between citizens of different States, suit shall be brought only in the district of the resi. dence of either the plaintiff or the defendant; nor shall any circuit court or district court have cognizance of any suit, except upon foreign bills of exchange, to recover the contents of any promissory note or other chose in action in favor of any assignee, or of any subsequent holder if such instrument be payable to bearer and be not made by any corporation, unless such suit might have been prosecuted in such court to recover the said contents if no assignment or transfer had been made; and the circuit courts shall also have appellate jurisdiction from the district courts under the regulations and restrictions prescribed by law.” Act August 13, 1888, 25 Stat, at L. 433.
8 565. District Courts: Jurisdiction.
The purposes of this treatise do not require a detailed and complete statement of the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts, but speaking generally, and excepting the less important classes of cases, the jurisdiction of the District Courts, as determined by statute, is as follows:
24 This jurisdiction is coneurrent with that of the Circuit Courts. 25 The Court of Claims has concurrent jurisdiction.