Blythe v. Hinckley , 173 U.S. 501 ( 1899 )

  • 173 U.S. 501 (1899)


    No. 367.

    Supreme Court of United States.

    Submitted January 30, 1899.
    Decided April 3, 1899.

    *506 Mr. Frederic D. McKenney, Mr. W.H.H. Hart, Mr. John Garber and Mr. Robert Y. Hayne for the motion.

    Mr. S.W. Holladay, Mr. E.B. Holladay, Mr. Jefferson Chandler and Mr. L.D. McKisick opposing.

    MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

    We have heretofore determined that review by certificate is limited by the act of March 3, 1891, to certificates by the Circuit Courts, made after final judgment, of a question in issue as to their own jurisdiction; and to certificates by the Circuit Courts of Appeal of questions of law in relation to which the advice of this court is sought. United States v. Rider, 163 U.S. 132.

    Appeals or writs of error may be taken directly from the Circuit Courts to this court in cases in which the jurisdiction of those courts is in issue, that is, their jurisdiction as Federal courts, the question alone of jurisdiction being certified to this *507 court. The Circuit Court held that the remedy was at law and not in equity. That conclusion was not a decision that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction as a court of the United States. Smith v. McKay, 161 U.S. 355; Blythe Company v. Blythe, 172 U.S. 644.

    The Circuit Court dismissed the bills on another ground, namely, that the judgments of the state courts could not be reviewed by that court on the reasons put forward. This, also, was not in itself a decision of want of jurisdiction because the Circuit Court was a Federal court, but a decision that the Circuit Court was unable to grant relief because of the judgments rendered by those other courts.

    If we were to take jurisdiction on this certificate, we could only determine whether the Circuit Court had jurisdiction as a court of the United States, and as the decree rested on no denial of its jurisdiction as such, but was rendered in the exercise of that jurisdiction, it is obvious that this appeal cannot be maintained in that aspect.

    Nor can we take jurisdiction on the ground that the case involved the construction or application of the Constitution of the United States, or that the validity or construction of a treaty was drawn in question, or that the constitution or law of a State was claimed to be in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, within the meaning of the Judiciary Act of March 3, 1891.

    The Circuit Court by its decree passed on none of these matters, unless it might be said that they were indirectly involved in holding the judgments of the state courts to be a bar; and, moreover, the decree rested on the independent ground that the remedy was at law.

    Even if the decree had been based solely on the binding force of the state judgments, still we cannot hold that an appeal directly to this court would lie.

    The Superior Court of San Francisco was a court of general jurisdiction, and authorized to take original jurisdiction "of all matters of probate," and the bill averred that Thomas H. Blythe died a resident of the city and county of San Francisco and left an estate therein; and that court repeatedly decreed *508 that Florence was the heir of Thomas H. Blythe, and its decrees were repeatedly affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State. So far as the construction of the state statutes and state constitution in this behalf by the state courts was concerned, it was not the province of the Circuit Court to reëxamine their conclusions. As to the question of the capacity of an alien to inherit, that was necessarily involved in the determination by the decrees that Florence did inherit, and that judgment covered the various objections in respect of section 1978 of the Revised Statutes, and the tenth section of article one of the Constitution of the United States, and any treaty relating to the subject.

    We are not to be understood as intimating in the least degree that the provisions of the California Code amounted to an invasion of the treaty-making power, or were in conflict with the Constitution or laws of the United States, or any treaty with the United States; but it is enough for the present purpose that the state courts had concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Courts of the United States, to pass on the Federal questions thus intimated, for the Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States are as much a part of the laws of every State as its own local laws and constitution, and if the state courts erred in judgment, it was mere error, and not to be corrected through the medium of bills such as those under consideration.

    Appeal dismissed.

Document Info

DocketNumber: 367

Citation Numbers: 173 U.S. 501, 19 S. Ct. 497, 43 L. Ed. 783, 1899 U.S. LEXIS 1456

Judges: Fuller, After Stating the Case

Filed Date: 4/3/1899

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 4/15/2017

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United States v. Larkin , 208 U.S. 333 ( 1908 )

Venner v. Great Northern R. Co. , 209 U.S. 24 ( 1908 )

Scully v. Bird , 209 U.S. 481 ( 1908 )

Pusey & Jones Co. v. Hanssen , 261 U.S. 491 ( 1923 )

Twist v. Prairie Oil & Gas Co. , 274 U.S. 684 ( 1927 )

Pennsylvania v. Williams , 294 U.S. 176 ( 1935 )

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Jackson v. United States National Bank, Portland, Ore. , 153 F. Supp. 104 ( 1957 )

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