Clung v. Silliman

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation19 U.S. 598,6 Wheat. 598,5 L.Ed. 340
Decision Date16 March 1821

19 U.S. 598
5 L.Ed. 340
6 Wheat. 598
March 16, 1821
March 12th.

THIS cause was argued by Mr. Harper, for the plaintiff in error, and by Mr. Doddridge, for the defendant.

March 16th.

Mr. Justice JOHNSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case presents no ordinary group of legal questions. They exhibit a striking specimen of the involutions which ingenuity may cast about legal rights, and an instance of the growing pretensions of some of the State Courts over the exercise of the powers of the general government.

The plaintiff in error, who was also the plaintiff

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below, supposes himself entitled to a pre-emptive interest in a tract of land in the State of Ohio, and claims of the register of the land office of the United States, the legal acts and documents upon which such rights are initiated. That officer refuses, under the idea, that the right is already legally vested in another; and that he possesses, himself, no power over the subject in controversy. A mandamus is then moved for in the Circuit Court of the United States, and that Court decides, that Congress has vested it with no such controlling power over the acts of the ministerial officers in the given case. (2 Wheat. 369.) The same application is then preferred to the State Court for the county in which the subject in controversy is situated . The State Court sustains its own jurisdiction over the register of the land office, but on a view of the merits of the claim, dismisses the motion.

From both these decisions appeals are made to this Court, in form of a writ of error.

In the case of M'Intire v. Wood, 7 Cranch 504, decided in this Court, in 1813, the mandamus contended for was intended to perfect the same claim, and in point of fact the suit was between the same parties. The influence of that decision on these cases, is resisted, on the ground, that it did not appear in that case, that the controversy was between parties who, under the description of person, were entitled to maintain suits in the Courts of the United States; whereas, the averments in the present cases show, that the parties litigant are citizens of different States, and,

Page 600

therefore, competent parties in the Circuit Court. But we think it perfectly clear, from an examination of the decision alluded to, that it was wholly uninfluenced by any considerations drawn from the want of personal attributes of the parties. The case came up on a division of opinion, and the single question stated is, 'whether that Court had power to issue a writ of mandamus to the register of a land office in Ohio, commanding him to issue a final certificate of purchase to the plaintiff for certain lands in the State?'

Both the argument of counsel, and the opinion of the Court, distinctly show, that the power to issue the mandamus in that case, was contended for as incident to the judicial powers of the United States. And the reply of the Court is, that though, argumenti gratia, it be admitted, that this controlling power over its ministerial officers, would follow from vesting in its Courts the whole judicial power of the United States, the argument fails here, since the legislature has only made a partial delegation of its judicial powers to the Circuit Courts; that if the inference be admitted as far as the judicial power of the Court actually extends, still, cases arising under the laws of the United States, are not, per se, among the cases comprised within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court, under the provisions of the 11th section; jurisdiction being in such cases reserved to the Supreme Court, under the 25th section, by way of appeal from the decisions of the State Courts.

There is, then, no just inference to be drawn from the decision in the case of M'Intire v. Wood, in favour

Page 601

of a case in which the Circuit Courts of the United States are vested with jurisdiction under the 11th section. The idea is in opposition to the express words of the Court, in response to the question stated, which are, 'that the Circuit Court did...

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    • United States Supreme Court
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    ...311 U.S. 55, 59, 61 S.Ct. 95, 97, 85 L.Ed. 36 (1940); Williams v. Norris, 12 Wheat. 117, 120, 6 L.Ed. 571 (1827); McClung v. Silliman, 6 Wheat. 598, 603, 5 L.Ed. 340 (1821). 9 The judiciary is the final authority on issues of statutory construction and must reject administrative constructio......
  • Baldwin County Welcome Center v. Brown
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    • United States Supreme Court
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    ...before an appellate Court is, was the judgment correct, not the ground on which the judgment professes to proceed." McClung v. Silliman, 6 Wheat. 598, 603, 5 L.Ed. 340 (1821). See also Ex parte Royall, 117 U.S. 241, 250, 6 S.Ct. 734, 739, 29 L.Ed. 868 (1886). The majority, in summarily reve......
  • Garland v. Sullivan, 83-1283
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • June 27, 1984
    ...1651(a) is derived, was not a source of substantive authority to mandamus federal executive branch officers. Cf. McClung v. Silliman, 19 U.S. [6 Wheat.] 598, 5 L.Ed. 340 (1821) (state court cannot mandamus federal officer). Compare Pub.L. No. 87-748, Sec. 1(a), 76 Stat. 744 (1972), codified......
  • Barber Asphalt Pav. Co. v. Morris
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • October 24, 1904
    ...... cited in that opinion broad enough to sustain the view there. [132 F. 953] . taken. In McClung v. Silliman, 6 Wheat. 598, 600, 5. L.Ed. 340, it is said that 'the fourteenth section of the. act under consideration (Act Sept. 24, 1789, c. 20, 1 Stat. 81) ......
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1 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 96 Nbr. 1, November 2020
    • November 1, 2020
    ...decrees and judgments corresponded to resolutions in equity and law respectively. Supra note 94. (177) See M'Clung v. Silliman, 19 U.S. 598, 603 (1821); see, e.g., Smith v. City of Jackson, 544 U.S. 228, 232 (2005) (establishing that a federal statute recognizes disparate-impact liability, ......

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