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this unconstitutional law than if it had affected their property ; nor less entitled to the protection of the General Government, when the judgment of the state court affected their personal liberty, and inflicted a disgraceful punishment. The court, therefore, ordered the proceedings against the missionaries to be annulled, and that they should be released from their imprisonment. The special mandate issued to the court below, to carry that judgment into effect, was not obeyed, and compulsory proceedings were in progress to enforce it, when the matter was compromised by the discharge of the missionaries, upon their withdrawing the suits they had commenced against the state officers for their detention.
In a more recent case, the Supreme Court observed that if the state legislatures may annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and the rights thereby acquired, the Constitution becomes a solemn mockery, and the nation is deprived of the means of enforcing its laws by its own tribunals : so fatal a result must be deprecated by all; and the people of every state inust feel a deep interest in resisting principles so destructive to the Union, and in averting consequences so fatal to themselves.*
The Supreme Court is also clothed with that superintending authority over the subordinate courts of the United States, which should be deposited in the highest tribunal and last resort of the people for justice. It has power to issue prohibitory writs to the District Courts, when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; and mandatory process in cases warranted by the principles and usages of law, to any courts established, or persons
* 12 Peter's Rep., 357.
holding office under the authority of the United States. The Supreme Court, and all the Federal Courts, have power to issue all rits not specially provided by statute, which may be necessary for the exercise of their respective jurisdictions, and conformable to the principles and usages of law; and the individual judges of all of them may, by writ of Habeas Corpus, relieve all persons from all manner of unjust imprisonment or restraint occurring under, or by colour of, the authority of the United States.
Under the power granted to Congress of erecting tribunals subordinate to the Supreme Court, two descriptions of inferior .courts, differing materially in the nature and extent of their respective jurisdictions, have been established. For this purpose, the United States have been divided into nine judicial circuits ; , and each circuit consists of three or more districts; each district, for the most part, comprises an entire state ; but in some of the larger and more populous states there are two districts. Some districts are not embraced within any circuit, and have only District Courts; which, however, exercise the powers of a Circuit Court within their respective districts, except in cases of error and appeal. In the District of Columbia, which comprises the territory ceded to the United States for the seat of the Federal Government, there is both a Circuit and a District Court, specially and differently organized for that district. The former is composed of a chiefjustice and two associate judges, from whose decisions writs of error and appeals lie to the Supreme Court of the United States. The jurisdiction vested in these courts respectively, corresponds with that vested in the Circuit and District Courts established for the Union at large.
II. The Circuit Courts are held annually in each
judicial district by a justice of the Supreme Court, assigned by law to the particular circuit, and the judge of the district, for which the court is held. But the Supreme Court may, in cases where special circumstances in their judgment render it necessary, assign two justices of the Supreme Court to attend the Circuit Court. If a vacancy happen by the death of the justice of the Supreme Court to whom the circuit is allotted, the district judge may, under the act of Congress, discharge all the duties of the Circuit Court for his district, except that he cannot sit upon a writ of error, or upon an appeal from his own court; and where the district judge is absent, or has been of counsel, or is interested in the cause, the Circuit Court may be holden by the justice of the Supreme Court alone. If an opposition of opinions between the justice of the Supreme Court and the district judge occurs, in a case in which the Circuit Court has original jurisdiction, the point on which they disagree is directed by law to be certified to the Supreme Court; whereupon the cause is removed into that court for final judgment or decree; but in all cases of appeal or removal from a District to a Circuit Court, judgment is to be rendered in the latter according to the opinion of the justice of the Supreme Court presiding therein.
The Circuit Courts, thus organized, are invested with original and exclusive jurisdiction, except in certain cases hereafter mentioned, of all crimes and ofences cognizable under the authority of the United States, exceeding the degree of ordinary misdemeanours; and of those, they have concurrent jurisdiction with the District Courts. They have original cognizance, concurrently 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 a certain
sum, and the United States are plaintiffs ; or an alien is a party, or the suit is between a citizen of the state where it is brought and a citizen of another state. They have also original jurisdiction in equity, and at law, of all suits arising under the acts of Congress relative to copy-rights, and the rights growing out of inventions and discoveries ; and they likewise have concurrent jurisdiction with the District Courts of the United States, and with the courts and magistrates of the several states, of all suits at common law, where the United States, or an officer thereof, sues under the authority of an act of Congress, however small the amount.
The Circuit Courts of the United States have appellate jurisdiction in all final judgments and decrees and judgments of the District Courts; and if any suit be commenced in a state court against an alien, or by a citizen of the state in which the suit is brought against a citizen of another state, the defendant, on giving security, may remove the cause to the Circuit Court for the Federal judicial district in which the suit is brought.*
A Circuit Court, although an inferior court in the language of the Constitution, is not so in the sense which the common law attaches to the term ; nor are its proceedings subject to the narrow rules which apply to inferior courts of common law, or courts of special jurisdiction. On the contrary, the Circuit Courts of the United States are courts of original and durable jurisdiction, and as such, are entitled to liberal intendments in favour of their powers. They are, nevertheless, courts of limited jurisdiction, and have cognizance, not of causes generally, but only of a few, under special circumstances, amounting to
a small proportion of the cases which an unlimited
jurisdiction would embrace; and the legal presumption is, that a cause is without their jurisdiction until the contrary appears.
III. The District Courts are derived from the same constitutional power of Congress as the Circuit Courts. They hold annually four stated terms, and special courts at the discretion of the respective judges.
The District Courts of the United States have, exclusively of the state courts, cognizance of all lesser crimes and offences against the United States, committed within their respective districts, or upon the high seas, and which are punishable by fine and imprisonment, to a small amount, and for a short term. They have also exclusive original cognizance of all civil cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction ; of seizures under the impost, navigation, and trade laws of the Union, where the seizures are made on the high seas or in waters within their district, navigable from the ocean by vessels of ten or inore tons' burden; and also of all other seizures made under the laws of the United States; and of all suits for penalties or forfeitures incurred under those laws.
They have, moreover, cognizance, concurrent with Circuit Courts and the state courts, of causes in which an alien sues for the violation of a right accruing to him under the law of nations, or a treaty of the United States; and of all suits at common law, in which the United States are plaintiffs, and the matter in dispute is of a certain small amount. They have jurisdiction likewise, exclusive of the state courts, of all suits against consuls or vice-consuls, except of offences of a higher degree than those which have been mentioned. They have also exclusive cognizance of proceedings to repeal patents, obtained surrepti