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Rundle et al. v. Delaware and Raritan Canal Company.
converse thereof has been ruled by this court, and that this matter is no longer open for question. In answer to such an argument, I would reply, that this is a matter involving a construction of the Constitution, and that wherever the construction or the integrity of that sacred instrument is involved, I can hold myself trammelled by no precedent or number of precedents. That instrument is above ali precedents; and its integrity every one is bound to vindicate against any number of precedents, if believed to trench upon its supremacy. Let us examine into what this court has propounded in reference to its jurisdiction in cases in which corporations have been parties; and endeavor to ascertain the influence that may be claimed for what they have heretofore ruled in support of such jurisdiction. The first instance in which this question was brought directly before this court, was that of the Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, 5 Cranch, 61. An examination of this case will present a striking instance of the error into which the strongest minds may be led, whenever they shall depart from the plain, common acceptation of terms, or from well ascertained truths, for the attainment of conclusions, which the subtlest ingenuity is incompetent to sustain. This criticism upon the decision in the case of the Bank v. Deveaux, may perhaps be shielded from the charge of presumptuousness, by a subsequent decision of this court, hereafter to be mentioned. In the former case, the Bank of the United States, a corporation created by Congress, was the party plaintiff, and upon the question of the capacity of such a party to sue in the courts of the United States, this court said, in reference to that question, “ The jurisdiction of this court being limited, so far as respects the character of the parties in this particular case, to controversies between citizens of different States, both parties must be citizens, to come within the description. That invisible, intangible, and artificial being, that mere legal entity, a corporation aggregate, is certainly not a citizen, and consequently cannot sue or be sued in the courts of the United States, unless the rights of the members in this respect can be exercised in their corporate name. If the corporation be considered as a mere faculty, and not as a company of individuals, who, in transacting their business, may use a legal name, they must be excluded from the courts of the Union.” The court having shown the necessity for citizenship in both parties, in order to give jurisdiction; having shown farther, from the nature of corporations, their absolute incompatibility with citizenship, attempts some qualification of these indisputable and clearly stated positions, which, if intelligible at all, must be taken as wholly subversive of the positions so laid down. After stating the requisite of citizenship, and showing that a corpoRundle et al. v. Delaware and Raritan Canal Company. ration cannot be a citizen," and consequently that it cannot sue or be sued in the courts of the United States," the court goes on to add, “ unless the rights of the members can be exercised in their corporate name.” Now, it is submitted that it is in this mode only, viz. in their corporate name, that the rights of the members can be exercised; that it is this which constitutes the character, and being, and functions of a corporation. If it is meant beyond this, that each member, or the separate members, or a portion of them, can take to themselves the character and functions of the aggregate and merely legal being, then the corporation would be dissolved ; its unity and perpetuity, the essential features of its nature, and the great objects of its ex. istence, would be at an end. It would present the anomaly of a being existing and not existing at the same time. This strange and obscure qualification, attempted by the court, of the clear, legal principles previously announced by them, forms the introduction to, and apology for, the proceeding, adopted by them, by which they undertook to adjudicate upon the rights of the corporation, through the supposed citizenship of the individuals interested in that corporation. They assert the power to look beyond the corporation, to presume or to ascertain the residence of the individuals composing it, and to model their decision upon that foundation. In other words, they affirm that in an action at law, the purely legal rights, asserted by one of the parties upon the record, may be maintained by showing or presuming that these rights are vested in some other person who is no party to the controversy before them.
Thus stood the decision of the Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, wholly irreconcilable with correct definition, and a puzzle to professional apprehension, until it was encountered by this court, in the decision of the Louisville and Cincinnati Railroad Company v. Letson, reported in 2 Howard, 497. In the latter decision, the court, unable to untie the judicial entanglement of the Bank and Deveaux, seem to have applied to it the sword of the conqueror; but, unfortunately, in the blow they have dealt at the ligature which perplexed them, they have severed a portion of the temple itself. They have not only contravened all the known definitions and adjudica. tions with respect to the nature of corporations, but they have repudiated the doctrines of the civilians as to what is imported by the term subject or citizen, and repealed, at the same time, that restriction in the Constitution which limited the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States to controversies between “ citizens of different States.” They have asserted that, “ a corporation created by, and transacting business in a State, is to be deemed an inhabitant of the State, capable of being treated Rundle et al. v. Delaware and Raritan Canal Company.
as a citizen, for all the purposes of suing and being sued, and that an averment of the facts of its creation, and the place of transacting its business, is sufficient to give the circuit courts jurisdiction."
The first thing which strikes attention, in the position thus affirmed, is the want of precision and perspicuity in its terms.
The court affirm that a corporation created by, and transacting business within a State, is to be deemed an inhabitant of that State. But the article of the Constitution does not make inhabitancy a requisite of the condition of suing or being sued; that requisite is citizenship. Moreover, although citizenship implies the right of residence, the latter by no means implies citizenship. Again, it is said that these corporations may be treated as citizens, for the purpose of suing or being sued. Even if the distinction here attempted were comprehensible, it would be a sufficient reply to it, that the Constitution does not provide that those who may be treated as citizens, may sue or be sued, but that the jurisdiction shall be limited to citizens only; citi. zens in right and in fact. The distinction attempted seems to be without meaning, for the Constitution or the laws nowhere define such a being as a quasi citizen, to be called into existence for particular purposes; a being without any of the attributes of citizenship, but the one for which he may be temporarily and arbitrarily created, and to be dismissed from existence the moment the particular purposes of his creation shall have been answered. In a political, or legal sense, none can be treated or dealt with by the government as citizens, but those who are citizens in reality. It would follow, then, by necessary induction, from the argument of the court, that as a corporation must be treated as a citizen, it must be so treated to all intents and purposes, because it is a citizen. Each citi. zen (if not under old governments) certainly does, under our system of polity, possess the same rights and faculties, and sustain the same obligations, political, social, and moral, which appertain to each of his fellow-citizens. As a citizen, then, of a State, or of the United States, a corporation would be eligible to the State or Federal legislatures; and if created by either the State or Federal governments, might, as a native-born citizen, aspire to the office of President of the United States or to the command of armies, or fleets, in which last example, so far as the character of the commander would form a part of it, we should have the poetical romance of the spectre ship realized in our Republic. And should this incorporeal and invisible commander not acquit himself in color or in conduct, we might see him, provided his arrest were practicable, sent to answer his delinquencies before a court-martial, and subjected to the penal
Rundle et al. v. Delaware and Raritan Canal Company.
ties of the articles of war. Sir Edward Coke has declared, that a corporation cannot commit treason, felony, or other crime; neither is it capable of suffering a traitor's or felon's punishment; for it is not liable to corporeal penalties — that it can perform no personal duties, for it cannot take an oath for the due execution of an office; neither can it be arrested or committed to prison, for its existence being ideal, no man can arrest it; neither can it be excommunicated, for it has no soul. But these doctrines of Lord Coke were founded upon an apprehension of the law now treated as antiquated and obsolete. His lordship did not anticipate an improvement by which a corporation could be transformed into a citizen, and by that transformation be given a physical existence, and endowed with soul and body too. The incongruities here attempted to be shown as necessarily deducible from the decisions of the cases of the Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, and of the Cincinnati and Louisville Railroad Company v. Letson, afford some illustration of the effects which must ever follow a departure from the settled principles of the law. These principles are always traceable to a wise and deeply founded experience; they are, therefore, ever consentaneous, and in harmony with themselves and with reason; and whenever abandoned as guides to the judicial course, the aberration must lead to bewildering uncertainty and confusion. Conducted by these principles, consecrated both by time and the obedience of sages, I am brought to the following conclusions: 1st. That by no sound or reasonable interpretation, can a corporation - a mere faculty in law, be transformed into a citizen, or treated as a citizen. 2d. That the second section of the third article of the Constitution, investing the courts of the United States with jurisdiction in controversies between citizens of different States, cannot be made to embrace controversies to which corporations and not citizens are parties; and that the assumption, by those courts, of jurisdiction in such cases, must involve a palpable infraction of the article and section just referred to. 3d. That in the cause before us, the party defendant in the Circuit Court having been a corporation aggregate, created by the State of New Jersey, the Circuit Court could not properly take cognizance thereof; and, therefore, this cause should be remanded to the Circuit Court, with directions that it be dismissed for the want of jurisdiction.
This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the Circuit Court of the United States for the
In re Kaine.
District of New Jersey, and was argued by counsel. On con. sideration whereof, it is now here ordered and adjudged by this court, that the judgment of the said Circuit Court in this cause be, and the same is hereby, affirmed with costs.
IN RE Thomas KainE, AN ALLEGED FUGITIVE FROM GREAT
Under the tenth article of the treaty of 1842, between the United States and Great
Britain, a warrant was issued by a commissioner, at the instance of the British Consul, for the apprehension of a person who, it was alleged, had committed an assault, with intent to murder, in Ireland. The person being arrested, the Commissioner ordered him to be committed, for the
purpose of abiding the order of the President of the United States. A habeas corpus was then issued by the Circuit Coure of the United States, the Dis
trict Judge presiding, when, after a hearing, the writ was dismissed, and the prisoner remanded to custody. A petition was then presented to the Circuit Judge, at his chambers, addressed to the
Justices of the Supreme Court, and praying for a writ of habeas corpus, which was referred by the Circuit Judge, after a hearing, to the Justices of the Supreme
Court, in bank, at the commencement of the next term thereof. At the meeting of the court, a motion was made, with the papers and proceedings
presented to the Circuit Judge annexed to the petition. for writs of habeas corpus and certiorari to bring up the defendant and the record from the Circuit Court, for
the purpose of having the decision of that court examined. The motion was refused; the writs prayed for denied, and the perion dismissed.
On the 14th of June, 1852, Anthony Barclay, the British Consul at New York, addressed to Samuel R. Betts, Judge of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, and to any commissioners authorized to perform judicial duties in the matter, a requisition and complaint. It set forth, that it had been represented to Mr. Barclay, and was believed by him, that one Thomas Kane, or Kaine, or Cain, then of Cooleen, in Ireland, did, on or about the 5th of April, 1851, fire a pistol at ope James Balfe, with intent to murder him; that a warrant to apprehend him was issued by a justice of the peace, but that said Kaine had absconded and Aed to the United States. The requisition further stated, that the crime of which he had been guilty would have justified his apprehension and commitment if it had been committed within the United States. It then asked that a warrant for his apprehension might be issued, to the end that the evidence of criminality may be heard and considered; and if, on such hearing, the evidence should be deemed sufficient, that it should be certified to the proper executive authority, in order that a warrant might issue for the surrender of such fugitive, under the treaty between the United States and Great Britain.