State of Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins Co of New Orleans

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtGRAY
Citation32 L.Ed. 239,127 U.S. 265,8 S.Ct. 1370
Decision Date14 May 1888
PartiesSTATE OF WISCONSIN v. PELICAN INS. CO. OF NEW ORLEANS

8 S.Ct. 1370
127 U.S. 265
32 L.Ed. 239
STATE OF WISCONSIN
v.
PELICAN INS. CO. OF NEW ORLEANS.
May 14, 1888.

[Statement of Case from pages 265-269 intentionally omitted]

Page 269

S. Shellabarger, J. M. Wilson, and H. W. Cheynowith, for plaintiff.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 269-286 intentionally omitted]

Page 286

J.A. Campbell, for defendant.

Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

This action is brought upon a judgment recovered by the state of Wisconsin in one of her own courts against the Pelican Insurance Company, a Louisiana corporation, for penalties imposed by a statute of Wisconsin for not making returns to

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the insurance commissioner of the state, as required by that statute. The leading question argued at the bar is whether such an action is within the original jurisdiction of this court. The ground on which the jurisdiction is invoked, is not the nature of the cause, but the character of the parties; the plaintiff being one of the states of the Union, and the defendant a corporation of another of those states. The constitution of the United States, as originally established, ordains in article 3, § 2, that the judicial power of the United States shall extend 'to controversies between two or more states, between a state and citizens of another state, between citizens of different states between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, the foreign states, citizens, or subjects;' and that in all cases 'in which a state shall be party' this court shall have original jurisdiction. The eleventh article of amendment simply declares that 'the judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit, in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by citizens of another state, or by citizens or subjects of any foreign state.' By the constitution, therefore, this court has original jurisdiction of suits brought by a state against citizens of another state, as well as of controversies between two states; and it is well settled that a corporation created by a state is a citizen of the state, within the meaning of those provisions of the constitution and statutes of the United States which define the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Railroad Co. v. Railroad Co., 112 U. S. 414, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 208; Paul v. Virginia, 8 Wall. 168, 178; Pennsylvania v. Bridge Co., 13 How. 518. Yet, notwithstanding the comprehensive words of the constitution, the mere fact that a state is the plaintiff is not a conclusive test that the controversy is one in which this court is authorized to grant relief against another state or her citizens; and a consideration of the cases in which it has heretofore had occasion to pass upon the construction and effect of these provisions of the constitution may throw light on the determination of the question before us.

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As to 'controversies between two or more states.' The most numerous class of which this court has entertained jurisdiction is that of controversies between two states as to the boundaries of their territory, such as were determined before the Revolution by the king in council, and under the articles of confederation (while there was no national judiciary) by committees or commissioners appointed by congress. 2 Story, Const. § 1681; New Jersey v. New York, 3 Pet. 461, 5 Pet. 284, and 6 Pet. 323; Rhode Island v. Massachusetts, 12 Pet. 657, 724, 736, 754, 13 Pet. 23, 14 Pet. 210, 15 Pet. 233, and 4 How. 591, 628; Missouri v. Iowa, 7 How. 660, and 10 How. 1; Florida v. Georgia, 17 How. 478; Alabama v. Georgia, 23 How. 505; Virginia v. West Virginia, 11 Wall. 39; Missouri v. Kentucky, Id. 395. See, also, Georgia v. Stanton, 6 Wall. 50, 72, 73. The books of reports contain but few other cases in which the aid of this court has been invoked in controversies between two states. In Fowler v. Lindsey and Fowler v. Miller, actions of ejectment were pending in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Connecticut between private citizens for lands over which the states of Connecticut and New York both claimed jurisdiction; and a writ of certiorari to remove those actions into this court as belonging exclusively to its jurisdiction was refused, because a state was neither nominally nor substantially a party to them. 3 Dall. 411. Upon a bill in equity afterwards filed in this court by the state of New York against the state of Connecticut to stay the actions of ejectment, this court refused the injunction prayed for, because the state of New York was not a party to them, and had no such interest in their decision as would support the bill. New York v. Connecticut, 4 Dall. 1, 3. This court has declined to take jurisdiction of suits between states to compel the performance of obligations which, if the states had been independent nations, could not have been enforced judicially, but only through the political departments of their governments. Thus, in Kentucky v. Dennison, 24 How. 66, where the state of Kentucky, by her governor

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applied to this court, in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, for a writ of mandamus to the governor of Ohio to compel him o surrender a fugitive from justice, this court, while holding that the case was a controversy between two states, decided that it had no authority to grant the writ. And in New Hampshire v. Louisiana, and New York v. Louisiana, 108 U. S. 76, 2 Sup. Ct. Rep. 176, it was adjudged that a state to whom, pursuant to her statutes, some of her citizens, holding bonds of another state, had assigned them in order to enable her to sue on and collect them for the benefit of the assignors, could not maintain a suit against the other state in this court. See, also, Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 5 Pet. 1, 20, 28, 51, 75. In South Carolina v. Georgia, 93 U. S. 4, this court, speaking by Mr. Justice STRONG, left the question open whether 'a state, when suing in this court for the prevention of a nuisance in a navigable river of the United States, must not aver and show that it will sustain some special and peculiar injury therefrom, such as would enable a private person to maintain a similar action in another court;' and dismissed the bill because no unlawful obstruction of navigation was proved. Id. 14. As to 'controversies between a state and the citizens of another state.' The object of vesting in the courts of the United States jurisdiction of suits by one state against the citizens of another was to enable such controversies to be determined by a national tribunal, and thereby to avoid she partiality, or suspicion of partiality, which might exist if the plaintiff state were compelled to resort to the courts of the state of which the defendants were citizens. Federalist, No. 80; Chief Justice JAY, in Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419, 475; 2 Story, Const. §§ 1638, 1682. The grant is of 'judicial power,' and was not intended to confer upon the courts of the United States jurisdiction of a suit or prosecution by the one state of such a nature that it could not, on the settled principles of public and international law, be entertained by the judiciary of the other state at all.

By the law of England and of the United States the penal laws of a country do not reach beyond its own territory

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except when extended by express treaty or statute to offenses committed abroad by its own citizens; and they must be administered in its own courts only, and cannot be enforced by the courts of another country. Wheat. Int. Law, (8th Ed.) §§ 113, 121. Chief Justice MARSHALL stated the rule in the most condensed form, as an incontrovertible maxim, 'the courts of no country execute the penal laws of another.' The Antelope, 10 Wheat. 66, 123. The only cases in which the courts of the United States have entertained suits by a foreign state have been to enforce demands of a strictly civil nature. The Sapphire, 11 Wall. 164; King of Spain v. Oliver, 2 Wash. C. C. 429, and Pet. C. C. 217, 276. The case of The Sapphire was a libel in admiralty, filed by the late emperor of the French, and prosecuted by the French republic, after his deposition, to recover damages for a collision between an American ship and a French transport; and Mr. Justice BRADLEY, delivering the judgment of this court sustaining the suit, said: 'A foreign sovereign, as well as any other foreign person, who has a demand of a civil nature against any person here, may prosecute it in our courts.' 11 Wall. 167. The case of King of Spain v. Oliver, although a suit to recover duties imposed by the revenue laws of Spain, was not founded upon those laws, or brought against a person who had broken them, but was in the nature of an action of assumpsit against other persons alleged to be bound by their own contract to pay the duties; and the action failed because no express or implied contract of the defendants was proved. Pet. C. C. 286-290. The rule that the courts of no country execute the penal laws of another applies, not only to prosecutions and sentences for crimes and misdemeanors, but to all suits in favor of the state for the recovery of pecuniary penalties for any violato n of statutes for the protection of its revenue, or other municipal laws, and to all judgments for such penalties. If this were not so, all that would be necessary to give ubiquitous effect to a penal law would be to put the claim for a penalty into the shape of a judgment. Whart. Confl. Law, § 833;

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West. Pr. Int. Law, (1st Ed.) § 388; Pig. Judgm. 209, 210. Lord Kames, in his Principles of Equity, cited...

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319 practice notes
  • Republic of Colombia v. Diageo North America Inc., No. 04-CV-4372 (NGG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 19, 2007
    ...in its own courts only, and cannot be enforced by the courts of another country.". Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co. of New Orleans, 127 U.S. 265, 289-90, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 1374, 32 L.Ed. 239 Defendants argue that the revenue and penal law rules are parallel and that the penal law rule prevents thi......
  • Atlas Roofing Co., Inc. v. Occupational Safety Health Review Com'n, No. 73-2249
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 8, 1975
    ...deems appropriate. 10 Huntington v. Attrill, 1892, 146 U.S. 657, 13 S.Ct. 224, 36 L.Ed. 1123, 1133; Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 1887, 127 U.S. 265, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 32 L.Ed. 239, 243; Passavant v. United States, 1892, 148 U.S. 214, 13 S.Ct. 572, 37 L.Ed. 426; Bartlett v. Kane, 1853, 16 How.......
  • Vera v. Republic of Cuba, Docket No. 16-1227
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • August 14, 2017
    ...either of the court in which the judgment is rendered, or of the court in which it is offered in evidence. Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co. , 127 U.S. 265, 292, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 32 L.Ed. 239 (1888), overruled in part on other grounds by Milwaukee Cty. v. M.E. White Co. , 296 U.S. 268, 278, 56 S.C......
  • New Mexico v. McAleenan, No. CIV 19-0534 JB\SCY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 31, 2020
    ...its original jurisdiction narrowly, even compared to the lower courts’ Article III jurisdiction. See, e.g., Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 286-87, 299-300, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 32 L.Ed. 239 (1888) ; Georgia v. Stanton, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 50, 50, 76-77, 18 L.Ed. 721 (1867). See also Ja......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
319 cases
  • Republic of Colombia v. Diageo North America Inc., No. 04-CV-4372 (NGG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • June 19, 2007
    ...in its own courts only, and cannot be enforced by the courts of another country.". Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co. of New Orleans, 127 U.S. 265, 289-90, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 1374, 32 L.Ed. 239 Defendants argue that the revenue and penal law rules are parallel and that the penal law rule prevent......
  • Atlas Roofing Co., Inc. v. Occupational Safety Health Review Com'n, No. 73-2249
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • September 8, 1975
    ...deems appropriate. 10 Huntington v. Attrill, 1892, 146 U.S. 657, 13 S.Ct. 224, 36 L.Ed. 1123, 1133; Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 1887, 127 U.S. 265, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 32 L.Ed. 239, 243; Passavant v. United States, 1892, 148 U.S. 214, 13 S.Ct. 572, 37 L.Ed. 426; Bartlett v. Kane, 1853, 16 How.......
  • Vera v. Republic of Cuba, Docket No. 16-1227
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • August 14, 2017
    ...either of the court in which the judgment is rendered, or of the court in which it is offered in evidence. Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co. , 127 U.S. 265, 292, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 32 L.Ed. 239 (1888), overruled in part on other grounds by Milwaukee Cty. v. M.E. White Co. , 296 U.S. 268, 278, 56 S.C......
  • New Mexico v. McAleenan, No. CIV 19-0534 JB\SCY
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • March 31, 2020
    ...its original jurisdiction narrowly, even compared to the lower courts’ Article III jurisdiction. See, e.g., Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 286-87, 299-300, 8 S.Ct. 1370, 32 L.Ed. 239 (1888) ; Georgia v. Stanton, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 50, 50, 76-77, 18 L.Ed. 721 (1867). See also Ja......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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