The State of Pennsylvania, Complainant v. the Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company

Decision Date01 December 1855
Citation15 L.Ed. 449,59 U.S. 460,18 How. 460
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

THIS was a case of original jurisdiction upon the equity side of this court, and was a sequel to the preceding case between the same parties.

Mr. Charles W. Russell, as the solicitor for the Bridge Company, filed a petition praying leave to file a bill of review of an order of this court, made at the December term, 1851, respecting the costs, in the original case between the parties. The petition set forth that this court had no power to condemn either party to a suit originally brought in this court to pay the costs of the suit; or if it had the power, then the amount of costs must be regulated by some previous act of congress or rule of this court. It also set forth that the report of the clerk, which was confirmed by an order, was liable to objection, and prayed that the report might be reopened.

Mr. Justice NELSON delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an application made on the part of the defendants, for leave to file a bill of review, so far as respects the orders and decrees for costs heretofore rendered in the above case against them.

The court have already determined that the decree rendered for costs against the defendants was unaffected by the act of congress passed August 31, 1852, and with which determination it is entirely satisfied.

It is suggested, however, on the part of the applicant, that there is no act of congress expressly conferring power upon this court in the case of original jurisdiction, to award costs against either of the parties. This may be true, but it is equally true in respect to the circuit courts of the United States, and yet no one has doubted the power in those courts since their first organization; 1 Blatchford R. 652; and the grounds upon which that power rests apply with equal force to the supreme court in the cases mentioned. In the distribution of original jurisdiction between the supreme and circuit courts, there is nothing peculiar in the nature or character of that conferred upon the former, to distinguish it specially from the latter. Indeed, a large portion of this jurisdiction is concurrent with that of the circuit courts. It is exclusive only in a few cases having regard to the sovereign character of the party to the suit, or in cases where the interests of our foreign relations may be concerned, and principles of international law involved.

In the nature of the jurisdiction, therefore, or in the character of the suits in this court of original jurisdiction, we perceive nothing that should lead us to distinguish, on the question of costs, between this court and the circuit courts. And, as we have already said, the grounds for the exercise of the power namely, the repeated recognition by acts of congress of the right of the prevailing party to costs—is as applicable to the one court as the other.

It would be an endless task to refer to the various acts of congress passed from time to time recognizing the right of the party to costs in proceedings in the courts of the United States, and, of course, including this court. It will be sufficient to say, that they will be found in the laws of congress, running through its entire legislation on the subject of judicial proceedings, and regulation of the power and authority of the federal courts and its officers. Among the first acts is that of May 9, 1792, 'An act for regulating processes in the courts of the United States, and providing compensations for the officers of the said courts and for jurors and witnesses.' 1 Stats. at Large, 275. The compensation here provided for, on behalf of officers and persons concerned in the administration of justice, not payable out of the treasury of the United States, was recoverable as costs of the suit. § 6, p. 278.

The act of July 22, 1813, (2 Stats. at...

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20 cases
  • State of Texas v. State of Florida
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • March 13, 1939
    ...the original jurisdiction of this Court. See Robinson v. Campbell, 3 Wheat. 212, 222, 223, 4 L.Ed. 372; Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 18 How. 460, 462, 15 L.Ed. 449; Irvine v. Marshall, 20¢how. 558, 564, 565, 15 L.Ed. 994; Payne v. Hook, 7 Wall. 425, 430, 19 L.Ed. Before th......
  • Jackson v. United States National Bank, Portland, Ore.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Oregon
    • July 1, 1957
    ...75, 37 L.Ed. 1052; Payne v. Hook, 1868, 7 Wall. 425, 430, 74 U.S. 425, 430, 19 L.Ed. 260; State of Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 1855, 18 How. 460, 462, 59 U.S. 460, 462, 15 L.Ed. 497. As the Court explained in Atlas Life Ins. Co. v. W. I. Southern, Inc., supra: "The `juris......
  • Guardian Trust Co. v. Kansas City Southern Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • October 18, 1928
    ...the government, it has been observed." This case came before the Supreme Court a second time, on the question of taxation of costs. 18 How. 460, 15 L. Ed. 449. The court discussed the power of the federal equity courts to award costs both as provided by the statutes of the United States and......
  • Rodriguez v. Hayes
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • August 20, 2009
    ...are an inherent part of the "judicial power" committed to the federal courts by Article III, see Pennsylvania v. Wheeling & Belmont Bridge Co., 59 U.S. (18 How.) 460, 462, 15 L.Ed. 449 (1855), traditional equitable powers can be curtailed only by an unmistakable legislative command. See, e.......
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