Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Culberson's Argument for Appellants.

State of Texas, and the bondholders aforesaid," and this is in effect a suit to restrain the State of Texas, through the commission, from violating the alleged contract by establishing rates which will yield less revenue than that authorized by the act of 1854. It is also said in these opinions that to constitute suits against the State, when its officers are the nominal defendants, the State must have a pecuniary interest involved. Such is this case. The commission law provides penalties for its violation, directs in sections 19 and 21 thereof that the commission shall cause them to be recovered and that they shall be paid into the treasury of the State. The right to these penalties is a property right; they are debts and demands due the State by the companies, and to restrain the commission and the attorney general from recovering them is a denial of the right of the State to collect its debts and reduce its property to possession.

But the principle of these cases, it is submitted, is too narrow. They lay down the rule that suits, though against officers through whom alone it may perform its sovereign functions, are not against the State unless a contract with the State is involved in the litigation or unless the State has a property interest in the controversy. Such a construction is destructive of the larger purpose of the Eleventh Amendment. From its terms and history it is clear that this purpose was to protect the State against Federal judicial interference with its administrative affairs as well as with its mere property rights. It is thereby declared that the “judicial power shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity” against a State by a citizen of another State. The character of the suit is immaterial (1 Kent Com. 297). The inhibition attaches if by the decree the property rights of the State may be affected or if the State through its officers may be compelled to do or abstain from doing any act in its governmental capacity. It is inconceivable that the people of the United States, at that period intensely watchful and jealous of the rights of the States, intended by this broad and comprehensive amendment to protect the States against judicial interference with their property and leave unprotected the vital, undelegated powers of government.

Mr. Culberson's Argument for Appellants.

By the Constitution, as originally adopted, the judicial power of the United States did not extend to controversies between

State and its own citizens; nor does it now. It only extended to controversies “ between a State and citizens of another State.” This court, however, decided in 1793 that

” a State could be sued by a citizen of another State. Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419. This decision produced great concern among the States. Intense feeling was aroused, which led to the adoption of the Eleventh Amendment. As the Constitution then stood suits against the State could not be maintained by their own citizens, and consequently it was only necessary to deny the right to citizens of other States, as was done by the amendment. It is an indisputable truth of history that this amendment was dictated by considerations of state sovereignty and had for its purpose the restoration of state immunity from suit by individuals as it existed prior to the formation of the Union. 2 Hare's Amer. Const. Law, 1055;

; 1 Bryce, Amer. Comm. 231.

“The adoption of the first eleven amendments to the Constitution, so soon after the original instrument was accepted, shows a prevailing sense of danger at that time from the Federal power. And it cannot be denied that such a jealousy continued to exist with many patriotic men until the breaking out of the late civil war.” Slaughter-house Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 82; Davidson v. New Orleans, 96 U. S. 97, 101.

What, then, is this immunity from suit restored by the amendment? Is it limited to mere pecuniary and property rights, or does it extend to those of administration and government? The exemption of the United States and the seyeral States of the Union from being impleaded without their consent is as absolute as that of the Crown of England, Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264, 411, and “no suit or action can be brought against the King even in civil matters, because no court can have jurisdiction over him.” 1 Bl. Com. 241.

. The foundation of the doctrine shows it to be applicable to governmental affairs. In Nichols v. United States, 7 Wall. 122, 126, Mr. Justice Davis said : “Every government has an inherent right to protect itself against suits, and if, in the

[ocr errors]

Mr. Culberson's Argument for Appellants.

liberality of legislation, they are permitted, it is only on such terms and conditions as are prescribed by statute. The principle is fundamental, applies to every sovereign power, and, but for the protection which it affords, the government would be unable to perform the various duties for which it was created.In Briggs v. Light Boats, 11 Allen, 157, 162, Mr. Justice Gray thus stated the rule: “ It is an elementary and familiar principle of English and American constitutional law that no direct suit can be brought against the sovereign in his own courts without his consent. In the older books this is often put upon the technical ground that, all judicial writs being in the name of the King as the fountain of justice, the King cannot by his own writ command himself. But the broader reason is that it would be inconsistent with the very idea of supreme executive power and would endanger the performance of the public duties of the sovereign to subject him to repeated suits as a matter of right, at the will of any citizen, and to submit to the judicial tribunals the control and disposition of his public property, his instruments and means of carrying on the government in war and peace and the money in his Treasury.” In the case of Ayers Mr. Justice Matthews said: “The very object and purpose of the Eleventh Amendment were to prevent the indignity of subjecting a State to the coercive process of judicial tribunals at the instance of private parties. It was thought to be neither becoming nor convenient that the several States of the Union, invested with that large residuum of sovereignty which had not been delegated to the United States, should be summoned as defendants to answer the complaints of private persons, whether citizens of other States or aliens, or that the course of their public policy and the administration of their public affairs should be subject to and controlled by the mandates of judicial tribunals without their consent, and in favor of individual interests." In re Ayers, 123 U. S. 505.

It thus appears that immunity from suit rests upon the broad ground that suability is incompatible with sovereignty; that but for the rule “the government would be unable to perform the various duties for which it was created;" that

[ocr errors]

Mr. Culberson's Argument for Appellants.

any other rule “would endanger the performance of the public duties” of the State and place under the control of the judiciary “the instruments and means of carrying on the government,” and that without it “the course of their public policy and the administration of their public affairs ” would be subject to and controlled by the mandates of judicial tribunals. The constitutional amendment adopted by the people of Texas in 1890 and under which the commission law was enacted contains this provision : “The legislature shall pass laws to regulate railroad freight and passenger tariffs, to correct abuses and prevent unjust discrimination and extortion in the rates of freight and passenger tariffs on the different railroads in this State, and enforce the same by adequate penalties; and to the further accomplishment of these objects and purposes may provide and establish all requisite means and agencies invested with such powers as may be deemed adequate and advisable.” No rates were fixed directly by the legislature, but authority to establish rates is vested in the commission. The commission is the agency and means adopted by the legislature to perform the duty enjoined by the Constitution. It is given a superintending authority over the railways of the State, and in effect is directed to take care that the laws relating thereto are faithfully executed. It is required to establish rates, to enforce the same by having the penalties inflicted, to report violations of the law to the attorney general and request prosecutions, to investigate all complaints against railroad companies, and, generally, it may be said, the most important functions of government relating to the establishment and enforcement of rates are entrusted to it. The commission is the representative of the State and within the limits of the law its acts are the acts of the State. The same is true of other state officers in the various divisions of government, and the principle which would extend judicial power over one would finally encompass the whole, and in the end the entire administrative machinery of the State would pass under the control and domination of the judiciary. These proceedings, if sustained, will interfere with or prevent the State from exercising its undoubted power to regulate commerce, one

Mr. Culberson's Argument for Appellants.

of the most important functions and duties of government, through the agency of a commission, and it is idle to say that to enjoin the officers through whom alone it can perform these duties, or through whom it lawfully elects to perform them, does not enjoin the State. A construction which places its administrative agencies under the control of the judiciary of a distinct government degrades a State, and is utterly destructive of its independence in all the powers not delegated to the United States and which are reserved to it by the Constitution. Compared with the independent exercise of that “large residuum of sovereignty” remaining in the States, mere property rights are of sınall consequence, and to narrow the amendment to these would not accomplish the aims and aspirations of its authors or reflect the spirit of their time. They would have repelled the suggestion that their conception and purpose were limited to the lesser consideration of property and took no heed of the autonomy of the States. Their plan contemplated and embraced all of these. What would have been the answer then and what should it be now to the proposition that States may not be sued on contracts or for property, but may be enjoined from exercising the powers and duties of government? What would it avail the States to save their property and lose their independence? Let me not be misunderstood. It is conceded that if the law is void the suit as against the commission is not, under the decisions, against the State. The contention is that the law is constitutional, that the commission in effect and in respect of the powers and duties conferred and enjoined by it is the State, and a suit against it which interferes with the performance of these duties or which wholly restrains such performance is against the State. Any other conclusion, it is submitted, is illogical and indefensible. It is attested by the pronounced theory of this case. The very basis and foundation of the suit, the corner-stone of the complaint, is that the State, through the cominission, is depriving the trustee of property without due process of law, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment; for this amendment, in declaring “Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,” is levelled

« PreviousContinue »