In re State of New York et al. Petition of Walsh et al, No. 25

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtPITNEY
Citation41 S.Ct. 588,256 U.S. 490,65 L.Ed. 1057
PartiesIn re STATE OF NEW YORK et al. Petition of WALSH et al
Docket NumberNo. 25
Decision Date01 June 1921

256 U.S. 490
41 S.Ct. 588
65 L.Ed. 1057
In re STATE OF NEW YORK et al. Petition of WALSH et al.
No. 25.
Argued Dec. 13 and 14, 1920.
Decided June 1, 1921.

Page 491

Mr. Edward G. Griffin, of Albany, N. Y., for petitioners.

Mr. Ellis H. Gidley, of Buffalo, N. Y., for respondent.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 491-494 intentionally omitted]

Page 494

Mr. Justice PITNEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

Three separate libels in rem were filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of New

Page 495

York—two against the steam tug Charlotte, her engines, boilers, machinery, etc., by one Dolloff and one Wagner, respectively, both residents and presumably citizens of the state of New York, to severally recover for damages alleged to have been caused to certain canal boats owned by them while navigated upon the Erie Canal in tow of the Charlotte; the other against the steam tug Henry Koerber, Jr., her boilers, engines, tackle, etc., by Murray Transportation Company, a corporation of the state of New York, bailee of a certain coal barge, to recover damages alleged to have been received by the barge while navigated upon the Erie Canal in tow of the Koerber. In each case the tug was claimed by Frank F. Fix and Charles Fix, partners in business under the name of Fix Bros., of Buffalo, N. Y., and released from arrest on the filing of satisfactory stipulations. Claimants filed answers to the several libels, and at the same time filed petitions under admiralty rule 59, 29 Sup. Ct. xxii (new rule 56, 40 Sup. Ct. xxi), setting up in each case that at the time of the respective disasters and damage complained of the tugs were under charter by claimants to Edward S. Walsh, superintendent of public works of the state of New York, who had entered into such charter parties under authority reposed in him by an act of the Legislature of the state of New York, being chapter 264 of the Laws of 1919, and had the tugs under his operation, control, and management; that if decrees should be ordered in the respective causes against the tugs the claimants, because of their ownership of the vessels, would be called upon for payment, and thus would be mulcted in damages for the disasters, to which they were total strangers; and that by reason of these facts Edward S. Walsh, superintendent of public works of the state of New York, ought to be proceeded against in the same suits for such damages in accordance with the rule. The District Court, pursuant to the prayer of these petitions, caused monitions to be issued in all

Page 496

three cases against Edward S. Walsh, superintendent of public works, citing him to appear and answer, and in case he could not be found that 'the goods and chattels of the state of New York used and controlled by him' should be attached. The monitions were served upon Walsh within the jurisdiction of the court.

The Attorney General of the state appeared in all three cases specially in behalf of the state and the people thereof, and of Walsh, and filed a suggestion that the court was without jurisdiction to proceed against Walsh, as superintendent of public works, for the reason that, as appeared upon the face of the proceedings, they were suits against the state of New York in which the state had not consented to be sued. The District Court denied motions to dismiss the monitions (The Henry Koerber, Jr. [D. C. N. Y.] 268 Fed. 561), whereupon the Attorney General, on behalf of the state and the people thereof, and of Walsh, as superintendent and individually, under leave granted, filed in this court a petition for writs of prohibition and mandamus. An order to show cause was issued, to which the District Judge made a return, and upon this and the proceedings in the District Court the matter has been argued.

The record shows that the charters had expired according to their terms, and the tugs were in possession of the claimants, neither the state nor Walsh having any claim upon or interest in them. At no time has any res belonging to the state or to Walsh, or in which they claim any interest, been attached or brought under the jurisdiction of the District Court. Nor is any relief asked against Mr. Walsh individually; the proceedings against him being strictly in his capacity as a public officer.

The power to issue writs of prohibition to the District Courts when proceeding as courts of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction is specifically conferred upon this court by section 234, Judicial Code (Act March 3, 1911, c. 231, 36

Page 497

Stat. 1087, 1156 [Comp. St. § 1211]. And the fact that the objection to the jurisdiction of the court below might be raised by an appeal from the final decree is not in all cases a valid objection to the issuance of a prohibition at the outset, where a court of admiralty assumes to take cognizance of maters over which it has no lawful jurisdiction. In re Cooper, 143 U. § 472, 495, 12 Sup. Ct. 453, 36 L. Ed. 232.

That a state may not be sued without its consent is a fundamental rule of jurisprudence having so important a bearing upon the construction of the Constitution of the United States that it has become established by repeated decisions of this court that the entire judicial power granted by the Constitution does not embrace authority to entertain a suit brought by private parties against a state without consent given; not one brought by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of a foreign state, because of the Eleventh Amendment; and not even one brought by its own citizens, because of the fundamental rule of which the amendment is but an exemplification. Beers v. Arkansas, 20 How. 527, 529, 15 L. Ed. 991; Railroad Co. v. Tennessee, 101 U. S. 337, 339. 25 L. Ed. 960; Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U. S. 1, 10-17, 10 Sup. Ct. 504, 33 L. Ed. 842; North Carolina v. Temple, 134 U. S. 22, 30, 10 Sup. Ct. 509, 33 L. Ed. 849; Fitts v. McGhee, 172 U. S. 516, 524, 19 Sup. Ct. 269, 43 L. Ed. 535; Palmer v. Ohio, 248 U. S. 32, 34, 39 Sup. Ct. 16, 63 L. Ed. 108; Duhne v. New Jersey, 251 U. S. 311, 313, 40 Sup. Ct. 154, 64 L. Ed. 280.

Nor is the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction exempt from the operation of the rule. It is true the amendment speaks only of suits in law or equity; but this is because, as was pointed out in Hans v. Louisiana, supra, the amendment was the outcome of a purpose to set aside the effect of the decision of this court in Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419, 1 L. Ed. 440, which happened to be a suit at law brought against the state by a citizen of another state, the decision turning upon the construction of that clause of section 2 of article 3 of the Constitution establishing the judicial power in cases in law and equity between a state

Page 498

and citizens of another state, from...

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441 practice notes
  • State v. Wayfair, Inc., 3:16–CV–03019–RAL
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Dakota
    • January 17, 2017
    ...is a textual security of the fundamental principle of sovereign immunity held by state governments. See Ex parte State of New York , 256 U.S. 490, 497, 41 S.Ct. 588, 65 L.Ed. 1057 (1921). A state can waive its rights in sovereign immunity and the Eleventh Amendment, but consent to suit in s......
  • Welch v. Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation, No. 85-1716
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1987
    ...State, Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842, and prohibits admiralty suits against a State, Ex parte New York, No. 1, 256 U.S. 490, 41 S.Ct. 588, 65 L.Ed. 1057, unless the State expressly waives its immunity and consents to suit in federal court. Moreover, assuming that......
  • Seminole Tribe Florida v. Florida, 9412
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 27, 1996
    ...a suit brought by private parties against a State without consent given . . . ' ") (SCALIA, J., dissenting) (quoting Ex parte New York, 256 U.S. 490, 497, 41 S.Ct. 588, 589, 65 L.Ed. 1057 (1921)); see also cases cited at n. 7, supra. As the dissent in Union Gas recognized, the plurality's c......
  • In re Mitchell, BAP No. CC-97-1350-OBMe
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, Ninth Circuit
    • July 15, 1998
    ...v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1, 38, 109 S.Ct. 2273, 105 L.Ed.2d 1 (1989) (J. Scalia, dissenting in part) (quoting Ex parte New York, 256 U.S. 490, 497, 41 S.Ct. 588, 65 L.Ed. 1057 Case law variously holds that the Eleventh Amendment bars: (1) a court's subject matter jurisdiction over the sui......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
438 cases
  • State v. Wayfair, Inc., 3:16–CV–03019–RAL
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of South Dakota
    • January 17, 2017
    ...is a textual security of the fundamental principle of sovereign immunity held by state governments. See Ex parte State of New York , 256 U.S. 490, 497, 41 S.Ct. 588, 65 L.Ed. 1057 (1921). A state can waive its rights in sovereign immunity and the Eleventh Amendment, but consent to suit in s......
  • Welch v. Texas Department of Highways and Public Transportation, No. 85-1716
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 1987
    ...State, Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 10 S.Ct. 504, 33 L.Ed. 842, and prohibits admiralty suits against a State, Ex parte New York, No. 1, 256 U.S. 490, 41 S.Ct. 588, 65 L.Ed. 1057, unless the State expressly waives its immunity and consents to suit in federal court. Moreover, assuming that......
  • Seminole Tribe Florida v. Florida, 9412
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 27, 1996
    ...a suit brought by private parties against a State without consent given . . . ' ") (SCALIA, J., dissenting) (quoting Ex parte New York, 256 U.S. 490, 497, 41 S.Ct. 588, 589, 65 L.Ed. 1057 (1921)); see also cases cited at n. 7, supra. As the dissent in Union Gas recognized, the plurality's c......
  • In re Mitchell, BAP No. CC-97-1350-OBMe
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, Ninth Circuit
    • July 15, 1998
    ...v. Union Gas Co., 491 U.S. 1, 38, 109 S.Ct. 2273, 105 L.Ed.2d 1 (1989) (J. Scalia, dissenting in part) (quoting Ex parte New York, 256 U.S. 490, 497, 41 S.Ct. 588, 65 L.Ed. 1057 Case law variously holds that the Eleventh Amendment bars: (1) a court's subject matter jurisdiction over the sui......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • Citizen Suits Against States and Territories and the Eleventh Amendment
    • United States
    • The Clean Water Act and the Constitution. Legal Structure and the Public's Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment Part II
    • April 20, 2009
    ...Great N. Life Ins. Co. v. Read, 322 U.S. 47, 51 (1944) (same); Missouri v. Fiske, 290 U.S. 18, 26 (1933) (same); Ex Parte New York, 256 U.S. 490, 497 (1921) (same); Duhne v. New Jersey, 251 U.S. 311, 313 (1920) (same); Palmer v. Ohio, 248 U.S. 32, 34 (1918) (same); Smith v. Reeves, 178 U.S.......
  • Rethinking the Supreme Court’s Interstate Waters Jurisprudence
    • United States
    • Georgetown Environmental Law Review Nbr. 33-2, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...from a federal court. 134 U.S. 1, 19–21 (1890). In In re New York, it extended this immunity to federal courts’ admiralty jurisdiction. 256 U.S. 490, 500 (1921). In Principality of Monaco v. Mississippi, it extended the immunity to suits brought by foreign states. 292 U.S. 313, 330 (1934). ......

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