Helm v. Zarecor

Citation32 S.Ct. 10,222 U.S. 32,56 L.Ed. 77
Decision Date06 November 1911
Docket NumberNo. 395,395
PartiesT. O. HELM et al., Appts., v. J. H. ZARECOR et al
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Messrs. John M. Gaut and Alexander Pope Humphrey for appellants.

Messrs. W. C. Caldwell, Frank Slemons, and W. B. Lamb for appellees.

Mr. Justice Hughes delivered the opinion of the court:

The sole question presented by this appeal is with respect to the jurisdiction of the circuit court.

The bill, as amended, was brought by certain ministers, ruling elders, and laymen of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, citizens of states other than Tennessee, suing for themselves and for all the members of said Church, against individuals, citizens of Tennessee, described as representing not only their own interests, but also those of all the members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and 'The Board of Publication of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church,' a Tennessee corporation.

The controversy disclosed by the bill arose from the proceedings, taken in 1906, to effect the union of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, both voluntary religious associations, and relates to the property and management of the defendant corporation. The Board of Publication had been incorporated in 1860, under the direction of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of conducting its publishing work, and had acquired valuable property consisting of a publishing house and its equipment in Nashville, Tennessee. The original members of the corporation were the committee of publication of the Church, and their successors under the charter were appointed by the General Assembly, to which was committed its regulation and control.

The bill alleged that the two Churches had been legally united, and that, as a result, the property in question was held by the corporation in trust 'for the entire reunited denomination;' and, further, that 'the Board and its officers and managers were advised and believed, and still believe,' that the union was valid, that 'thereby the Board of Publication became a corporation and institution of the reunited Church,' and that the managers of the corporation 'could do nothing else than recognize the General Assembly of the united Church by reporting to it and otherwise recognizing its authority.' It was also alleged that a minority of the members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and of its ministers, who were opposed to the consolidation, repudiated it and effected a separate organization under the former name, and that thereupon a body assuming to be the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church declared the offices of all the members of the Board of Publication vacant, and proceeded to elect persons of their own organization to fill the supposed vacancies. These persons had made demand for the possession of the corporate property, claiming to be the rightful members of the corporation, and that its property was held in trust for the religious association by whose General Assembly they had been elected. It was stated that this claim cast a cloud upon the equitable title to the property. After reviewing at length the history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the action of the representatives of the two Churches which culminated in the alleged consolidation, and the subsequent antagonistic proceedings, the bill prayed for decree that the property in question is held in trust by the corporation for the benefit of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, or the members thereof, and that the members of the Board elected by the reunited Church are the true and lawful members of said Board; that the defendants be enjoined from interfering with the control and management of the corporation by those members, or with the corporate property, and that, if mistaken with respect to the relief prayed for as to the persons who constitute the Board and have the right of management, the court should decree that 'whoever may be the members of the Board, and whoever may be entitled to such management, they shall manage the corporation and administer the trust for the use and benefit of said reunited Church.'

The defendants filed two pleas to the jurisdiction. In the first plea it was alleged that the complainants had collusively made and omitted both complainants and defendants for the purpose of showing the requisite diversity of citizenship. The second plea set up the pendency of a suit in the chancery court of Davidson county, Tennessee, in the nature of a quo warranto proceeding, brought on the relation of J. H. Zarecor and other individual defendants herein, to oust those named as defendants in that suit from membership in the Board of Publication, and from the control and management of its property, and to install the relators in their stead. These pleas the court below overruled. As to the ground of the first plea, that certain persons had been omitted as parties, the court held that § 5 of the judiciary act of March 3, 1875, chap. 137 (18 Stat. at L. 472, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 511), relates solely to the collusive making of the actual parti...

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  • Smith v. Sperling
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • December 16, 1953
    ...the essential party in interest, unless it is made a party to the litigation." 18 Wall. at page 627; see also Helm v. Zarecor, 1911, 222 U.S. 32, 36-38, 32 S. Ct. 10, 56 L.Ed. 77; Steele v. Culver, 1908, 211 U.S. 26, 29, 29 S.Ct. 9, 53 L.Ed. 74; Porter v. Sabin, 1893, 149 U.S. 473, 478, 13 ......
  • Barkley v. Hayes
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Western District of Missouri
    • August 16, 1913
    ...and religious education. This union was conceived and consummated with that worthy object in view. As indicated by the Supreme Court in Helm v. Zarecor controversy transcends the rivalries of the contending parties. It embraces the fundamental question of the right of these religious associ......
  • City of Indianapolis v. Chase Nat Bank of City of New York Chase Nat Bank of City of New York v. Citizens Gas Co of Indianapolis Same v. Indianapolis Gas Co 8212 13
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 10, 1941
    ...decisions, the governing principles are clear. To sustain diversity jurisdiction there must exist an 'actual', Helm v. Zarecor, 222 U.S. 32, 36, 32 S.Ct. 10, 11, 56 L.Ed. 77, 'substantial', Niles-Bement-Pond Co. v. Iron Moulders' Union, 254 U.S. 77, 81, 41 S.Ct. 39, 41, 65 L.Ed. 145, contro......
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    ...City of Indianapolis v. Chase National Bank, 314 U.S. 63, 69, 62 S.Ct. 15, 16, 86 L.Ed. 47, or as stated in Helm v. Zarecor, 222 U.S. 32, 36, 32 S.Ct. 10, 11, 56 L.Ed. 77, 'the actual controversy,' is between citizens of different States. This is a practical not a mechanical determination a......
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