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between citizens of different States," within the meaning of the Constitution and the laws of the United States. It was, as already said, a judicial proceeding initiated in a tribunal which constitutes a part of the judicial establishment of Kentucky, as ordained by its constitution, Const. Kentucky, $ 140; and the court, although charged with some duties of an administrative character, is a judicial tribunal and a court of record. Fletcher v. Leight, 4 Bush, 303; Pennington v. Woolfolk, 79 Kentucky, 13.
Are the above cases inapplicable by reason of their having been decided prior to the passage of the judiciary act of 1887, 1888 limiting the right of removal to suits of which the Circuit Courts of the United States could take original cognizance? Clearly not. The difference between that act and the act of 1875 is wholly apart from the present discussion; for, both acts gave the Circuit Courts original jurisdiction of all suits, having the requisite amount in dispute, and in which there was a controversy between citizens of different States. So that what was a suit or controversy to which, by reason of diverse citizenship, the judicial power of the United States extended under the act of 1875, must be deemed a suit under the act of 1887, 1888. The only effect of the latter act, so far as the present question is concerned, was to restrict the right of removal from the state court to cases of which the Circuit Court could take original cognizance. And the present case, being a suit involving a controversy between citizens of different States, is manifestly of that character.
It is said, however, that when it is proposed to take private property for public purposes, the question of appropriation is one primarily and exclusively for the State to determine.
There ought not to be any dispute, at this day, in reference to the principles which must control in all cases of the condemnation of private property for public purposes. It is fundamental in American jurisprudence that private property cannot be taken by the Government, National or state, except for purposes which are of a public character, although such
taking be accompanied by compensation to the owner. That principle, this court has said, grows out of the essential nature of all free governments. Loan Association v. Topeka, 20 Wall. 655; Cole v. La Grange, 113 U. S. 1, 6. If the purpose be public the taking may be outright, provided reasonable, certain and adequate provision is made, at the time of appropriation, to ascertain and secure the compensation to be made to the owner. Cherokee Nation v. Southern Kansas Railway Co., 135 U. S. 641, 659; Sweet v. Rechel, 159 U. S. 380, 399; Western Union Tel. Co. v. Pennsylvania R. R. Co. et al, 195 U. S. 540. Any state enactment in violation of these principles is inconsistent with the due process of law prescribed by the Fourteenth Amendment. C., B. & Q. R. R. Co. v. Chicago, 166 U. S. 226; San Diego Land &c. Co. v. National City, 174 U.S. 739, 754; Smyth v. Ames, 169 U. S. 466, 525. The position taken by the highest court of Kentucky on this general subject appears from Tracy v. Elizabethtown &c. R. R. Co., 80 Kentucky, 259, 265. It was there said: “It is erroneous to suppose that the legislature is beyond the control of the courts in exercising the power of eminent domain, either as to the nature of the use or the necessity to the use of any particular property. For if the use be not public, or no necessity for the taking exists, the legislature cannot authorize the taking of private property against the will of the owner, notwithstanding compensation may be required.”
Speaking generally, it is for the State, primarily and exclusively, to declare for what local public purposes private property, within its limits, may be taken upon compensation to the owner, as well as to prescribe a mode in which it may be condemned and taken. But the State may not prescribe any mode of taking private property for a public purpose and of ascertaining the compensation to be made therefor, which would exclude from the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court of the United States a condemnation proceeding which in its essential features is a suit involving a controversy between citizens of different States. “A State cannot,” this court has said,
“tie up a citizen of another State, having property rights within its territory invaded by unauthorized acts of its own officers to suits for redress in its own courts." Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 U. S. 362, 391.
Now, it is true that the Circuit Court could not have the property in question condemned for local public purposes, if the State had not previously, by statute, authorized its condemnation. After the removal of a case of condemnation from a state court the Federal court would proceed under the sanction of state legislation. It would enforce the state law, unless that law authorized the appropriation of private property for purposes that were not really of a public nature. So far as authority to take the property for local public purposes was concerned, the Circuit Court could not enforce any other than the state law. It would respect the sovereign power of the State to define the legitimate public purposes for which private property may be taken, upon compensation to the owner being made or secured. But at the same time it could enforce, as of course it must, the authority of the Supreme Law of the Land, which expressly extends the judicial power of the United States to all suits involving controversies between citizens of different States, and which also, by statute, gives the Circuit Courts of the United States, without qualification, jurisdiction of such controversies. A State cannot by
, any statutory provisions withdraw from the cognizance of the Federal courts a suit or judicial proceeding in which there is such a controversy. Otherwise the purpose of the Constitution in extending the judicial power of the United States to controversies between citizens of different States would thereby be defeated. If the judiciary act of Congress admitted of the case in the County Court being brought within the original cognizance of the Circuit Court, that is an end of the matter, although it be a case of the appropriation of private property to public uses under the authority of the State. Under any other view a State, by its own tribunals, could deprive citizens of other States of their property by condem
nation, without giving them an opportunity to protect themselves, in a National court, against local prejudice and influence.
It may, however, be urged that the Delaware corporation can be fully protected by the state court in its rights of property, because, if any Federal right be denied it, the authority of this court can be invoked upon writ of error to the highest court of the State. But the question whether the property is authorized by the local statute to be condemned, as well as the question of the amount of compensation to the owner, could not come here by writ of error from the state court. Such questions would not ordinarily involve a Federal right. In the present case the commissioners reported the damages to be only $100; whereas, the owner alleges that the amount awarded was grossly inadequate, practically confiscatory. That question, as well as the question whether the statute authorized the Traction Company to take the property, the Delaware corporation is constitutionally entitled, as between it and the Kentucky corporation, by reason of the diverse citizenship of the parties, to have determined upon their merits in a court of the United States, in which, presumably, it will be protected against local prejudice or influence. The Circuit Court, recognizing the right of the Traction Company to appropriate the land in question, if necessary for its purposes, could do all that is required by the Kentucky statute, and meet fully the ends of justice. Besides, a court always looks to substance and not to mere forms. Mere forms are not of vital consequence in cases of condemnation. Kohl v. United States, 91 U. S. 367, 375; United States v. Jones, 109 U. S. 513, 519.
It is suggested that the state legislature might have consummated the taking of the property of the Delaware corporation by means of a non-judicial tribunal, and thus left open simply the question of compensation to the owner of the property taken. We do not perceive that this suggestion is at all material in the present discussion; for, the State has
chosen to provide for the taking by means of what is conceded to be a suit in one of its judicial tribunals. It is, in effect, conceded that the Circuit Court may be given jurisdiction of the question of compensation. But the contention is, that in no case can the judicial power of the United States be invoked until the question of taking is consummated by a proceeding in the particular local tribunal designated by the State. This view, it is supposed, finds support in the cases in which it has been held that an original suit directly against a State, or a suit against an officer of the State which, by reason of the particular relief sought, is in effect a suit against the State, may be limited by the State to suits brought in one of its own
Smith v. Reeves, 178 U. S. 436. This illustration is wide of the mark; for, the mandate of the Constitution of the United States (11th Amendment) is 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;" whereas, the judicial power of the United States and the original jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts, whatever may be ordained by state legislation, extends to suits in which there is a controversy between citizens of different States. The exercise by the Circuit Courts of the United States of the jurisdiction thus conferred upon them is pursuant to the Supreme Law of the Land, and will not, in any proper sense, entrench upon the dignity, authority or autonomy of the States; for each State, by accepting the Constitution, has agreed that the courts of the United States may exert whatever judicial power can be constitutionally conferred upon them. In the exercise of that power a Circuit Court of the United States, sitting within the limits of a State and having jurisdiction of the parties, is, for every practical purpose, a court of that State. Its function, under such circumstances, is to enforce the rights of parties according to the law of the State, taking care, always, as the state courts must take care, not to infringe any right secured by the Constitution and the