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BALTIMORE AND POTOMAC RAILROAD COMPANY v. HOPKINS.

decided: April 1, 1889.

BALTIMORE AND POTOMAC RAILROAD COMPANY
v.
HOPKINS.



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

Author: Fuller

[ 130 U.S. Page 221]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the court.

Appellate jurisdiction was conferred on this court by the 25th section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, over final judgments and decrees in any suit in the highest court of law or equity of a State in which a decision in the suit could be had, in three classes of cases: First, 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; secondly, where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under, any State, on the ground of their bring repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States, and the decision is in favor of such their validity; thirdly, where is drawn in question the construction of any clause of the Constitution, or of a treaty, or statute of, or commission held under, the United States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege, or exemption specially set up or claimed by either party, under such clause of the said Constitution, treaty, statute, or commission. 1 Stat. 73, 85, c. 20, § 25.

By the second section of the act of February 5, 1867, 14 Stat. 385, 386, c. 28, this original 25th section was re-enacted with certain changes, and among others the words "or where is drawn in question the construction of any clause of the Constitution, or of a treaty, or statute of, or commission held under the United States, and the decision is against the title, right, privilege, or exemption specially set up or claimed by either party, under such clause of the said Constitution, treaty, statute or commission," were made to read "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 United States, and the decision is against

[ 130 U.S. Page 222]

     the title, right, privilege, or immunity specially set up or claimed by either party under such Constitution, treaty, statute, commission, or authority," and this was carried into § 709 of the Revised Statutes.

The act of Congress entitled "an act regulating appeals from the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Courts of the several Territories," approved March 3, 1885, 23 Stat. 443, c. 355, provides:

"That no appeal or writ of error shall hereafter be allowed from any judgment, or decree in any suit at law or in equity in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, or in the Supreme Court of any of the territories of the United States, unless the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, shall exceed the sum of five thousand dollars.

"SEC. 2. That the preceding section shall not apply to any case wherein is involved the validity of any patent or copyright, or in which is drawn in question the validity of a treaty or statute of or an authority exercised under the United States; but in all such cases an appeal or writ of error may be brought without regard to the sum or value in dispute."

When the validity of a statute of, or authority exercised under, the United States, is drawn in question in a state court, the decision of the latter must be against its validity in order to justify a review of such decision, but under this act it is sufficient if the validity is drawn in question irrespective of the conclusion reached. So that the inquiry is confined to whether the validity of such a statute or authority is actually controverted.

In Dupasseur v. Rochereau, 21 Wall. 130, 134, Mr. Justice Bradley, delivering the opinion of the court, says: "Where a State court refuses to give effect to the judgment of a court of the United States rendered upon the point in dispute, and with jurisdiction of the case and the parties, a question in undoubtedly raised which, under the act of 1867, may be brought to this court for revision. The case would be one in which a title or right is claimed under an authority exercised under the United States, and the decision is against the title or right so set up. It would thus be a case arising under the laws of the

[ 130 U.S. Page 223]

     United States establishing the Circuit Court, and vesting it with jurisdiction." This is so because a claim of right or title under an authority exercised under the United States was sufficient to give jurisdiction under that act, whereas the act of 1885 does not so provide, but only that the validity of the authority must be drawn in question. The distinction is palpable between a ...


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