CITES BY TOPIC:  jurisdiction

PDF Federal Jurisdiction, Form #05.018 (OFFSITE LINK) -detailed treatment of federal jurisdiction.

PDF Challenge to Income Tax Enforcement Authority Within Constitutional States of the Union, Form #05.052 (OFFSITE LINK)

PDF Challenging Federal Jurisdiction Course, Form #12.010 (OFFSITE LINK) -training on how to challenged federal jurisdiction in court

SEDM Jurisdictions Database(OFFSITE LINK) -detailed treatment of all jurisdictions in the U.S.

Federal Enforcement Authority Within States of the Union, Form #05.032 (OFFSITE LINK) -detailed treatment of federal jurisdiction.

U.S. Attorney Manual Section 666:  Proof of Territorial Jurisdiction

Fourteenth Amendment Annotations:  Jurisdiction-Findlaw

PDF 40 U.S.C. §3112 Annotated: Federal Jurisdiction

26 U.S.C. §7701(a)(39): Persons residing outside the United States

(39) Persons residing outside United States

If any citizen or resident of the United States does not reside in (and is not found in) any United States judicial district, such citizen or resident shall be treated as residing in the District of Columbia for purposes of any provision of this title relating to -

(A) jurisdiction of courts, or

(B) enforcement of summons.

Johnson v. Zarefoss, 198 F. Supp. 548 (1961)

"Assuming domicile is not the test under the venue statute, however, it is at least clear that something more than mere physical presence in the district is required. Stacher v. United States, 9 Cir., 1958, 258 F.2d 112."

There are other cases which serve to illustrate the foregoing point, but the Stacher case, just cited, was chosen for convenience, since plaintiff has elected it as the keystone of his argument, introducing it as follows:

'The most recent pronouncement on the definition of the word 'residence' within the Federal Venue Statute 28 U.S.C.A. 1391 was in Stacher v. United States (9 Cir.Cal.1958) 258 F.2d 112 wherein the court stated that the term residence and the term domicile were not synonymous. 'Reside as used in the federal statute differs from domicil; latter term involving intent, while 'reside' involves only an actual place of abode."

The last sentence, purportedly a quotation, cannot be found in the opinion after a careful search of the lengthy opinion. Instead, the following ambiguous or at least innocuous statement appears at page 116:

'We accept appellant's position that there is an essential difference between 'domicile' which generally involves [**6]  intent, and 'residence' which generally involves an actual place of  [*551]  abode. With this position the government agrees. We are then, not concerned with 'intent."

Further, in the Stacher case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit went to great pains to analyze the District Court's findings of fact as to residence. As may be seen at pages 116 to 119, the most searching scrutiny is given to all the circumstances surrounding the activities of defendant Stacher. The latter had lived in New Jersey for 38 years prior to 1953, continued to receive wages from New Jersey corporations, and still owned his Newark homestead at the time suit was brought. Physically, he was in Reno or Las Vegas, Nevada, at the crucial times --  and was conducting substantial business dealings there. Palm Springs and Beverly Hills, California, proved to be his residence, however.

Analysis of the factors leading to the court's ruling in that case shows that the test for residence was not different from that which this Court intends to apply here --  that is, --  something more than mere physical presence, and something less than domicile. Thus it will be seen that had the court in the [**7]  Stacher case, construing three statutes which contained the words reside or resident, been concerned primarily with intent, defendant Stacher would doubtless have been held to be a New Jersey resident. Had actual place of abode been the essence, he would have been a 'resident' of Nevada. Instead after a complete analysis of his activities during the time in question, the residence was found to have been in Southern California.

Other grounds of argument raised by the plaintiff must likewise be disapproved. Without conceding wrong venue, he argues convenience to the parties, citing DeGeorge v. Mandate Poultry Co., D.C.E.D.Pa.1961, 196 F.Supp. 192, opinion, by Wood, J. Such argument might be appropriate to a motion to transfer --  but would require support in the record beyond mere conclusory assertions of a pleader.

A case already cited was urged as supporting plaintiff's position, Champion Spark Plug Company v. Karchmar, D.C.S.D.N.Y.1960, 180 F.Supp. 727. It held that dismissal of one or more defendants for improper venue did not require dismissal as to remaining defendants. That proposition is not helpful here. True, it has been assumed that if plaintiff were able to maintain [**8]  venue in this district, dismissal of the separate suit of Jess Johnson (of Illinois) in his own right would follow --  but the ruling of this Court is that Larry Johnson did not reside in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania at the time suit was filed.

A suggestion of waiver of objection to venue by one of the defendant interests has been made. Smith v. Bain, D.C.M.D.Pa.1954, 123 F.Supp. 632 is urged as intimating that if a certain letter from a defendant to counsel had been more explicit it might have amounted to a waiver.

In the present case a letter has been written to this Court to the effect that an interest represented by counsel who has been present without taking part in the defense would have no objection to the forum. The hint is too subtle to amount to a waiver. It is not possible for a court to make distinctions between the wishes of the defendant which it sees before it and some other part of the defendant personality which has been split off and appears or observes by silent counsel. While sympathetic to counsel who must operate under the most frustrating limitation imaginable for a lawyer, a ban on speech, a court must rule only on the clear cut motions and [**9]  objections of the parties before it.

This Court has been asked to dismiss the present complaint for improper venue. For the foregoing reasons, the motion is granted. The ruling of this Court is, therefore, that the complaint filed in this action shall be dismissed and it is so ordered.

[Johnson v. Zarefoss, 198 F.Supp. 548 (1961)]

O'Donoghue v. United States, 289 U.S. 516 (1933)

“The District of Columbia, unlike the territories, is a permanent part of the United States — the very heart of the Union — over which Congress, under Art. I, § 8, cl. 17, has permanent and exclusive power of legislation — the combined powers of national and state governments where legislation is possible. P. 538. 13. Possession of the plenary power under Art. I, § 8, cl. 17, does not preclude Congress from exercising in the District other appropriate powers conferred upon it by the Constitution, or authorize a denial to the inhabitants of any constitutional guaranty not plainly inapplicable. P. 539. 14. It is important to bear in mind that the District was made up of portions of two of the original States, and was not taken out of the Union by the cession. Prior thereto its inhabitants were entitled to all the rights, guaranties, and immunities of the Constitution, among which was the right to have their cases arising under the Constitution heard and determined by federal courts created under, and vested with the judicial power conferred by, Art. III. It is not reasonable to assume that the cession stripped them of these rights, and that it was intended that at the very seat of the national government the people should be less fortified by the guaranty of an independent judiciary than in other parts of the Union. ”

[. . .520-521]

“Whether the courts of the District were established under the powers given Congress by Art. I, § 8, "to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court" or "to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever over such District," etc., or under Art. III, § 1, it can not be denied that they are "tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court" of the United States and repositories of the judicial power under Art. III. They are a part of the Federal Judicial System. Federal Trade Comm'n v. Klesner, 274 U.S. at p. 145.”

[. . .522]

O'Donoghue v. United States, 289 U.S. 516, 522 (1933) (“There is a vast distinction between jurisdiction and judicial power. The former may be granted, qualified or taken away at the will of Congress. Congress has frequently increased and diminished the appellate jurisdiction of this Court and created and abolished inferior courts. But after having created an inferior court of the United States and defined the subjects over which it shall have jurisdiction, Congress can not limit the exercise of the judicial power, because that comes directly from the Constitution and is not derived from Congress. Story, J., in Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 1 Wheat. 305, 328; Chief Justice Hughes, "The Supreme Court of the United States," p. 133; Kansas v. Colorado, 206 U.S. 46.”

[. . .524]

This Court has thus repeatedly recognized that the power of Congress, in legislating for the courts of the District of Columbia and for the Court of Claims, is free of the limitations imposed by Art. III of the Constitution. This does not mean that the tribunals in question are not courts, or that they do not exercise judicial power. The exercise of judicial power is common to both legislative and constitutional courts and determines the status of neither. Ex parte Bakelite Corp., 279 U.S. 438, 449. ”

[O'Donoghue v. United States, 289 U.S. 516 (1933)]

Great Cruz Bay, Inc., St. John v. Wheatley, 495 F.2d. 301, 307 (3d Cir. 1974)

“In the case of the federal government where the individual is either a United States citizen or an alien residing in the taxing jurisdiction, the tax under section 1 of the Code is based upon jurisdiction over the person; where the individual is an alien not residing in the taxing jurisdiction, the tax under section 871 of the Code is based upon jurisdiction over the property or income of the nonresident individual located or earned in the taxing jurisdiction”

[Great Cruz Bay, Inc., St. John v. Wheatley, 495 F.2d 301, 307 (3d Cir. 1974)]

[EDITORIAL: The "taxing jurisdiction" need NOT be physical. You can either earn it in the GEOGRAPHICAL "United States" OR earn it INSIDE THE CORPORATION (a fiction) as an officer of the corporation. Either way, you are WITHIN the "taxing jurisdiction". As long as you understand that a STATUTORY "citizen" or "resident of the United States" is the PUBLIC property subject to tax, then if you claim either of these two civil statuses, then the property attached to these two offices are PUBLIC property, because the OWNER is a public office.

Rights are property, and public rights attach to the office, which is property, and the legislative creator of the status and the corresponding rights is the owner. The creator is always the owner. See:

Hierarchy of Sovereignty: The Power to Create is the Power to Tax, Family Guardian Fellowship

The SSN/TIN is the METHOD of voluntary attachment. It furnishes PRIMA FACIE evidence of voluntary attachment to the office. 26 C.F.R. §301.6109-1(b) indicates that it is only mandatory in the case of a nonresident alien engaged in a "public office"/"trade or business. If the use of either the CIVIL STATUS or the NUMBER is coerced, or if you never indicate duress, then you are PRESUMED to be a VOLUNTEER and all property attached to the office will be "treated AS IF" it is public property.

The public office is property, and the civil status of "citizen and resident of the United States" that indicates it is property. If you invoke the status, you are using PUBLIC property for a PUBLIC benefit and must follow the rules for the exercise of the office, called a franchise or a "quasi-contract" or a privilege.

This is why a court can say the following in a refund claim in the case of someone claiming "citizen" or "resident" status and who has not corrected false information returns:

"The property McCoy claims they were depriving her of is not her private property. "
[McCoy v. U.S., 3:00-CV-2786-M, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 16, 2001)] ]

U.S. Code Annotated, Article III-The Judiciary:




Current through P.L. 106-73, approved 10-19-1999

Section 2, Clause 1. Jurisdiction of Courts

            Consent of the parties cannot confer subject matter jurisdiction on federal court, nor can party ever waive its right to challenge the subject matter jurisdiction of the court.  United Indus. Workers, Service, Transp., Professional Government of North America of Seafarers' Intern. Union of North America, Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters Dist. AFL-CIO, (Local No. 16) on Behalf of Bouton v. Government of Virgin Islands, C.A.3 (Virgin Islands) 1993, 987 F.2d 162.

            Federal jurisdiction cannot be conferred upon court by consent of parties, nor may its absence be waived.  Commonwealth Land Title Ins. Co. v. U.S., D.Conn.1991, 759 F.Supp. 87.

            United States district court has only limited jurisdiction, depending upon either the existence of a federal question or diverse citizenship of the parties, and where such elements of jurisdiction are wanting district court cannot proceed, even with the consent of the parties.  Wolkstein v. Port of New York Authority, D.C.N.J.1959, 178 F.Supp. 209.

            Parties may not by stipulation invoke judicial power of United States in litigation which does not present actual "case or controversy."  Sosna v. Iowa, U.S.Iowa 1975, 95 S.Ct. 553, 419 U.S. 393, 42 L.Ed.2d 532;  Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division v. Craft, Tenn.1978, 98 S.Ct. 1554, 436 U.S. 1, 56 L.Ed.2d 30.

            Parties may not confer jurisdiction either upon the Supreme Court of the United States or a United States District Court by stipulation.   California v. LaRue, U.S.Cal.1972, 93 S.Ct. 390, 409 U.S. 109, 34 L.Ed.2d 342, rehearing denied 93 S.Ct. 1351, 410 U.S. 948, 35 L.Ed.2d 615.

            Parties may not by stipulation invoke judicial power of the United States in litigation which does not present an actual case or controversy.  Citizens Concerned for Separation of Church and State v. City and County of Denver, C.A.10 (Colo.) 1980, 628 F.2d 1289, certiorari denied 101 S.Ct. 3114, 452 U.S. 963, 69 L.Ed.2d 975.

            Federal courts are not bound by factual stipulations that impact on their jurisdiction;  hence, courts are not bound by stipulations on which existence of a "case or controversy" might turn.  Occidental of Umm al Qaywayn, Inc. v. A Certain Cargo of Petroleum Laden Aboard Tanker Dauntless Colocotronis, C.A.5 (La.) 1978, 577 F.2d 1196, certiorari denied 99 S.Ct. 2857, 442 U.S. 928, 61 L.Ed.2d 296.

            Parties cannot invoke jurisdiction of federal court by stipulating to jurisdictional requirement of standing.  Vannatta v. Keisling, D.Or.1995, 899 F.Supp. 488, affirmed 151 F.3d 1215, certiorari denied 119 S.Ct. 870, 142 L.Ed.2d 771.

Norwood v. Kenfield, 34 C. 329; Ex parte Giabonini, 117 C. 573, [49 P. 732]

"A universal principle as old as the law, is that a proceedings of a court without jurisdiction are a nullity and its judgment therein without effect either on person or property."

[Norwood v. Kenfield, 34 C. 329; Ex parte Giabonini, 117 C. 573, [49 P. 732]]

Re Application of Wyatt, 114 Ca.App. 557, [300 P. 132]; Re Cavitt, 47 Cal.App.2d. 698, [118 P.2d. 846].

Jurisdiction is fundamental and a judgment rendered by a court that does not have jurisdiction to hear is void ab initio.

[Re Application of Wyatt, 114 Ca.App. 557, [300 P. 132]; Re Cavitt, 47 Cal.App.2d. 698, [118 P.2d. 846].]

Brooks v. Yawkey,  200 F. 2d. 633

“...federal jurisdiction cannot be assumed, but must be clearly shown”.

[Brooks v. Yawkey,  200 F. 2d 633]

Stanard v. Olesen,  74 S.Ct. 768

“No sanction can be imposed absent proof of jurisdiction”.

[Stanard v. Olesen,  74 S. Ct. 768]

People v. Ortiz, 32 Cal. App. 4th 286 (1995)

A statute does not trump the Constitution. Under the Fourth Amendment, " 'To be arrested in the home . . . is simply too substantial an invasion to allow without a warrant, at least in the absence of exigent circumstances, even when it is accomplished under statutory authority . . . .' " ( Payton v. New Yorksupra, 445 U.S. at pp. 588-589 [63 L. Ed. 2d at p. 652], quoting United States v. Reed (2d Cir. 1978) 572 F.2d 412, 423.)

[People v. Ortiz, 32 Cal. App. 4th 286 (1995)]

Osborn v. Bank of U.S., 22 U.S. 738, 1824 WL 2682 (U.S.,1824)

"But whatever may be the correct interpretation of the constitution upon this point, it has long been settled, that the Circuit Courts can exercise no jurisdiction but what is conferred upon them by law. The judiciary act does not vest them with jurisdiction where a State is a party. On the contrary, in a case like the present, it vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Supreme Court."

[Osborn v. Bank of U.S., 22 U.S. 738, 1824 WL 2682 (U.S.,1824)]

Williamson v. Puerifoy, 316 F.2d. 774 (5 Cir. 1963)

‘In the first place, the State courts are older than the Federal courts. They were here administering justice and functioning between litigants for 150 years before the Federal Government was organized. When the Constitution was written and adopted these State courts were not abolished nor subordinated to the national courts created by the Constitution of the new nation. The national courts have jurisdiction only of those things conferred upon them by law. And at the time of the creation of the national courts and at time of writing the Constitution itself the State courts were kept as a separate and distinct judicial institution. As a result all cases that originate in the State court must be appealed to an appellate court of the State and thence to the Supreme Court of the State. All cases originating in the United States court must be appealed to the Circuit Court of the United States or to the Supreme Court of the United States. Nowhere has a Federal trial court been given supervisory or appellate jurisdiction over State judges.’ (emphasis added)

[Williamson v. Puerifoy, 316 F.2d 774 (5 Cir. 1963)]

Basso v. Utah Power and Light Company, 495 F.2d. 906 (1974)

"A court lacking diversity jurisdiction cannot render judgment but must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceedings in which it becomes apparent that jurisidiction is lacking.  28 U.S.C.A. §1332."

"Party invoking jurisdiction of the court has duty to establish that federal jurisdiction does not exist.  28 U.S.C.A. §§1332, 1332(c)."

"There is a presumption against existence of federal jurisdiction; thus, party invoking federal court's jurisdiction bears the burden of proof.  28 U.S.C.A. §§1332, 1332(c); Fed.Rules Civ. Proc. rule 12(h)(3), 28 U.S.C.A."

"If parties do not raise question of lack of jurisdiction, it is the duty of the federal court to determine the manner sua sponte.  28 U.S.C.A. §1332."

"Lack of jurisdiction cannot be waived and jurisdiction cannot be conferred upon a federal court by consent, inaction, or stipulation.  28 U.S.C.A. §1332."

"Although defendant did not present evidence to support dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, burden rested with plaintiffs to prove affirmatively that jurisdiction did exist.  28 U.S.C.A. §1332".  Basso v. Utah Power and Light Company, 495 F.2d 906 (1974)

[Basso v. Utah Power and Light Company, 495 F.2d. 906 (1974)]

PDF Basso v. Utah Power and Light Company, 495 F.2d. 906 (1974)

Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that ‘whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action.’ A court lacking jurisdiction cannot render judgment but must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceedings in which it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking. Bradbury v. Dennis, 310 F.2d 73 (10th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 372 U.S. 928, 83 S.Ct. 874, 9 L.Ed.2d 733 (1963). The party invoking the jurisdiction of the court has the duty to establish that federal jurisdiction does exist, Wilshire Oil Co. of Texas v. Riffe, 409 F.2d 1277 (10th Cir. 1969), but, since the courts of the United States are courts of limited jurisdiction, there is a presumption against its existence. City of Lawton, Okla. v. Chapman, 257 F.2d 601 (10th Cir. 1958). Thus, the party invoking the federal court's jurisdiction bears the burden of proof. Becker v. Angle, 165 F.2d 140 (10th cir. 1947).

If the parties do not raise the question of lack of jurisdiction, it is the duty of the federal court to determine the matter sua sponte. Atlas Life Insurance Co. v. W. I. Southern Inc., 306 U.S. 563, 59 S.Ct. 657, 83 L.Ed. 987 (1939); Continental Mining and Milling Co. v. Migliaccio, 16 F.R.D. 217 (D.C. Utah 1954). Therefore, lack of jurisdiction cannot be waived and jurisdiction cannot be conferred upon a federal court by consent, inaction or stipulation. California v. LaRue, 409 U.S. 109, 93 S.Ct. 390, 34 L.Ed.2d 342 (1972); Natta v. Hogan, 392 F.2d 686 (10th Cir. 1968); Reconstruction Finance Corp. v. Riverview State Bank, 217 F.2d 455 (10th Cir. 1955).

[Basso v. Utah Power and Light Company, 495 F.2d 906 (1974)]

O'Donohue v. United States, 289 U.S. 516 (1933): Ruled that district courts were Art. III courts.

'As the only judicial power vested in Congress is to create courts whose judges shall hold their offices during good behavior, it necessarily follows that, if Congress authorizes the creation of courts and the appointment of judges for a limited time, it must act independently of the Constitution and upon territory which is not part of the United States within the meaning of the Constitution. ... It is sufficient to say that this case (The American Insurance Company et al. v. Canter, supra) has ever since been accepted as authority for the proposition that the judicial clause of the Constitution has no application to courts created in the territories, and that with respect to them Congress has a power wholly unrestricted by it.' [289 U.S. 516, 543]   After an exhaustive review of the prior decisions of this court relating to the matter, the following propositions, among others, were stated as being established:
  • '1. That the District of Columbia and the territories are not states within the judicial clause of the Constitution giving jurisdiction in cases between citizens of different states;
  • '2. That territories are not states within the meaning of Rev. St. 709, permitting writs of error from this court in cases where the validity of a state statute is drawn in question;
  • '3. That the District of Columbia and the territories are states as that word is used in treaties with foreign powers, with respect to the ownership, disposition, and inheritance of property;
  • '4. That the territories are not within the clause of the Constitution providing for the creation of a supreme court and such inferior courts as Congress may see fit to establish.'

    [O'Donohue v. United States, 289 U.S. 516 (1933)]


The major reason Citizens of the 50 states have been punished for laws that were not applicable to them is because they did not challenge jurisdiction.  They were, therefore, "presumed" to be citizens subject to the territorial jurisdiction of the United States Government.

Challenging jurisdiction is done by demanding written legal FACTS from the agency asserting their jurisdiction over the subject matter and you.  Remember, jurisdiction cannot be ASSUMED, it must be PROVEN!  Without FACTS substantiating jurisdiction, a case cannot be held over for trial.  A simple Freedom Form challenging jurisdiction is included here.  Jurisdiction can also be challenged in Pre-Trial hearings.

40 U.S.C. §3112:  Federal Jurisdiction


§ 3112. Federal jurisdiction

(a) Exclusive Jurisdiction Not Required.— It is not required that the Federal Government obtain exclusive jurisdiction in the United States over land or an interest in land it acquires.

(b) Acquisition and Acceptance of Jurisdiction.— When the head of a department, agency, or independent establishment of the Government, or other authorized officer of the department, agency, or independent establishment, considers it desirable, that individual may accept or secure, from the State in which land or an interest in land that is under the immediate jurisdiction, custody, or control of the individual is situated, consent to, or cession of, any jurisdiction over the land or interest not previously obtained. The individual shall indicate acceptance of jurisdiction on behalf of the Government by filing a notice of acceptance with the Governor of the State or in another manner prescribed by the laws of the State where the land is situated.

(c) Presumption.— It is conclusively presumed that jurisdiction has not been accepted until the Government accepts jurisdiction over land as provided in this section.

Old Wayne Mut. Life Assn v. McDonough, 204 U.S. 8 (1907)

The plaintiff in error insists that the Pennsylvania court had no jurisdiction to proceed against it; consequently the judgment it rendered was void for the want of the due process of law required by the 14th Amendment. If the defendant had no such actual, legal notice of the Pennsylvania suit as would bring it into court, or if it did not voluntarily appear therein by an authorized representative, then the Pennsylvania court was without jurisdiction, and the conclusion just stated would follow, even if the judgment would be deemed conclusive in the courts of that commonwealth. The constitutional requirement that full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state is necessarily to be interpreted in connection with other provisions of the Constitution, and therefore no state can obtain in the tribunals of other jurisdictions full faith and credit for its judicial proceedings if they are wanting in the due process of law enjoined by the fundamental law. 'No judgment of a court is due process of law, if rendered without jurisdiction in the court, or without notice to the party.' Scott v. McNeal, 154 U.S. 34, 46 , 38 S. L. ed. 896, 901, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1108. No state can, by any tribunal or representative, render nugatory a provision of the supreme law. And if the conclusiveness of a judgment of decree in a court of one state is questioned in a court of another government, Federal or state, it is open, under proper averments, to inquire whether the court rendering the decree or judgment had jurisdiction to render it.

Such is the settled doctrine of this court. In the leading case of Thompson v. Whitman, 18 Wall. 457, 468, 21 L. ed. 897, 901, the whole question was fully examined in the light of the authorities. Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for the court and delivering its unanimous judgment, stated the conclusion to be clear that the jurisdiction of a court rendering judgment in one state may be questioned in a collateral proceeding in another state, [204 U.S. 8, 16]   notwithstanding the averments in the record of the judgment itself. The court, among other things, said that if it be once conceded that 'the validity of a judgment may be attacked collaterally by evidence showing that the court had no jurisdiction, it is not perceived how any allegation contained in the record itself, however strongly made, can affect the right so to question it. The very object of the evidence is to invalidate the paper as a record. If that can be successfully done no statements contained therein have any force. If any such statements could be used to prevent inquiry, a slight form of words might always be adopted so as effectually to nullify the right of such inquiry. Recitals of this kind must be regarded like asseverations of good faith in a deed, which avail nothing if the instrument is shown to be fraudulent.' This decision was in harmony with previous decisions. Chief Justice Marshall had long before observed in Rose v. Himely, 4 Cranch, 241, 269, 2 L. ed. 608, 617, that, upon principle, the operation of every judgment must depend on the power of the court to render that judgment. In Williamson v. Berry, 8 How. 495, 540, 12 L. ed. 1170, 1189, it was said to be well settled that the jurisdiction of any court exercising authority over a subject 'may be inquired into in every other court when the proceedings in the former are relied upon and brought before the latter by a party claiming the benefit of such proceedings,' and that the rule prevails whether 'the decree or judgment has been given in a court of admiralty, chancery, ecclesiastical court, or court of common law, or whether the point ruled has arisen under the laws of nations, the practice in chancery, or the municipal laws of states.' In his Commentaries on the Constitution, Story, 1313, referring to Mills v. Duryee, 7 Cranch, 481, 484, 3 L. ed. 411, 413, and to the constitutional requirement as to the faith and credit to be given to the records and judicial proceedings of a state, said: "But this does not prevent an inquiry into the jurisdiction of the court in which the original judgment was given, to pronounce it; or the right of the state itself to exercise authority over the person or the subject-matter. The Con- [204 U.S. 8, 17]   stitution did not mean to confer [upon the states] a new power or jurisdiction, but simply to regulate the effect of the acknowledged jurisdiction over persons and things within the territory." In the later case of Galpin v. Page, 18 Wall. 350, 365, 366, 368, 21 L. ed. 959, 962, 963,-decided after, but at the same term as, Thompson v. Whitman,-the court, after referring to the general rule as to the presumption of jurisdiction in superior courts of general jurisdiction, said that such presumptions 'only arise with respect to jurisdictional facts concerning which the record is silent. Presumptions are only indulged to supply the absence of evidence or averments respecting the facts presumed. They have no place for consideration when the evidence is disclosed or the averment is made. When, therefore, the record states the evidence or makes an averment with reference to a jurisdictional fact, it will be understood to speak the truth on that point, and it will not be presumed that there was other or different evidence respecting the fact, or that the fact was otherwise than as averred.' In the same case: 'It is a rule as old as the law, and never more to be respected than now, that no one shall be personally bound until he has had his day in court; by which is meant until he has been duly cited to appear, and has been afforded an opportunity to be heard. Judgment without such citation and opportunity wants all the attributes of a judicial determination; it is judicial usurpation and oppression, and never can be upheld where justice is justly administered.'

[Old Wayne Mut. Life Assn v. McDonough, 204 U.S. 8 (1907)]

Foley Brothers, Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281 (1949)

"The canon of construction which teaches that legislation of Congress, unless a contrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, Blackmer v. United States, supra, 284 U.S. at 437, 52 S.Ct. at page 254, is a valid approach whereby unexpressed congressional intent may be ascertained It is based on the assumption that Congress is primarily concerned with domestic conditions. We find nothing in the Act itself, as amended, nor in the legislative history, which would lead to the belief that Congress entertained any intention other than the normal one in this case. The situation here is different from that in Vermilya-Brown Co. v. Connell, 335 U.S. 377 , where we held that by specifically declaring that the Act covered 'possessions' of the United States, Congress directed that the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.A. 201 et seq., applied beyond those areas over which the United States has sovereignty and was in effect in all 'possessions.' This Court concluded that the leasehold there involved was a 'possession' within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act." 

[Foley Brothers, Inc. v. Filardo, 336 U.S. 281 (1949)]

Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244 (1901)

In passing upon the questions involved in this and kindred cases, we ought not to overlook the fact that, while the Constitution was intended to establish a permanent form of government for the states which should elect to take advantage of its conditions, and continue for an indefinite future, the vast possibilities of that future could never have entered the minds of its framers. The states had but recently emerged from a war with one of the most powerful nations of Europe, were disheartened by the failure of the confederacy, and were doubtful as to the feasibility of a stronger union. Their territory was confined to a narrow strip of land on the Atlantic coast from Canada to Florida, with a somewhat indefinite claim to territory beyond the Alleghenies, where their sovereignty was disputed by tribes of hostile Indians supported, as was popularly believed, by the British, who had never formally delivered possession [182 U.S. 244, 285]   under the treaty of peace. The vast territory beyond the Mississippi, which formerly had been claimed by France, since 1762 had belonged to Spain, still a powerful nation and the owner of a great part of the Western Hemisphere. Under these circumstances it is little wonder that the question of annexing these territories was not made a subject of debate. The difficulties of bringing about a union of the states were so great, the objections to it seemed so formidable, that the whole thought of the convention centered upon surmounting these obstacles. The question of territories was dismissed with a single clause, apparently applicable only to the territories then existing, giving Congress the power to govern and dispose of them.

Had the acquisition of other territories been contemplated as a possibility, could it have been foreseen that, within little more than one hundred years, we were destined to acquire, not only the whole vast region between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but the Russian possessions in America and distant islands in the Pacific, it is incredible that no provision should have been made for them, and the question whether the Constitution should or should not extend to them have been definitely settled. If it be once conceded that we are at liberty to acquire foreign territory, a presumption arises that our power with respect to such territories is the same power which other nations have been accustomed to exercise with respect to territories acquired by them. If, in limiting the power which Congress was to exercise within the United States, it was also intended to limit it with regard to such territories as the people of the United States should thereafter acquire, such limitations should have been expressed. Instead of that, we find the Constitution speaking only to states, except in the territorial clause, which is absolute in its terms, and suggestive of no limitations upon the power of Congress in dealing with them. The states could only delegate to Congress such powers as they themselves possessed, and as they had no power to acquire new territory they had none to delegate in that connection. The logical inference from this is that if Congress had power to acquire new territory, which is conceded, that power was not hampered by the constitutional provisions. If, upon the other hand, we assume [182 U.S. 244, 286]   that the territorial clause of the Constitution was not intended to be restricted to such territory as the United States then possessed, there is nothing in the Constitution to indicate that the power of Congress in dealing with them was intended to be restricted by any of the other provisions.

[. . .]

If those possessions are inhabited by alien races, differing from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation, and modes of thought, the administration of government and justice, according to Anglo-Saxon principles, may for a time be impossible; and the question at once arises whether large concessions ought not to be made for a time, that ultimately our own theories may be carried out, and the blessings of a free government under the Constitution extended to them. We decline to hold that there is anything in the Constitution to forbid such action.

We are therefore of opinion that the island of Porto Rico is a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States within the revenue clauses of the Constitution; that the Foraker act is constitutional, so far as it imposes duties upon imports from such island, and that the plaintiff cannot recover back the duties exacted in this case.

[Downes v. Bidwell, 182 U.S. 244 (1901)]

Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936)

"The judicial power does not extend to the determination of abstract questions. Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 361 , 31 S.Ct. 250; Liberty Warehouse Company v. Grannis, 273 U.S. 70, 74 , 47 S.Ct. 282; Willing v. Chicago Auditorium Ass'n, 277 U.S. 274, 289 , 48 S.Ct. 507; Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis R. Co. v. Wallace, 288 U.S. 249, 262 , 264 S., 53 S.Ct. 345, 87 A.L. R. 1191."

[Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288 (1936)]

Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264, 6 Wheat. 265, 5 L.Ed. 257 (1821)

It is clear, that Congress cannot punish felonies generally; and, of consequence, cannot punish misprision of felony. It is equally clear, that a State legislature, the State of Maryland for example, cannot punish those who, in another State, conceal a felony committed in Maryland. How, then, is it that Congress, legislating exclusively for a fort, punishes those who, out of that fort, conceal a felony committed within it?

The solution, and the only solution of the difficulty, is, that the power vested in Congress, as the legislature of the United States, to legislate exclusively within any place ceded by a State, carries with it, as an incident, the right to make that power effectual. If a felon escape out of the State in which the act has been committed, the government cannot pursue him into another State, and apprehend him there, but must demand him from the executive power of that other State. If Congress were to be considered merely as the local legislature for the fort or other place in which the offence might be committed, then this principle would apply to them as to other local [19 U.S. 264, 429]   legislatures, and the felon who should escape out of the fort, or other place, in which the felony may have been committed, could not be apprehended by the marshal, but must be demanded from the executive of the State. But we know that the principle does not apply; and the reason is, that Congress is not a local legislature, but exercises this particular power, like all its other powers, in its high character, as the legislature of the Union. The American people thought it a necessary power, and they conferred it for their own benefit. Being so conferred, it carries with it all those incidental powers which are necessary to its complete and effectual execution.

Whether any particular law be designed to operate without the District or not, depends on the words of that law. If it be designed so to operate, then the question, whether the power so exercised be incidental to the power of exclusive legislation, and be warranted by the constitution, requires a consideration of that instrument. In such cases the constitution and the law must be compared and construed. This is the exercise of jurisdiction. It is the only exercise of it which is allowed in such a case. For the act of Congress directs, that 'no other error shall be assigned or regarded as a ground or reversal, in any such case as aforesaid, than such as appears on the face of the record, and immediately respects the before mentioned questions of validity or construction of the said constitution, treaties,' &c.

[. . .]

It is clear that Congress, as a legislative body, exercise two species of legislative power: the one, limited as to its objects, but extending all over the Union: the other, an absolute, exclusive legislative power over the District of Columbia. The preliminary inquiry in the case now before the Court, is, by virtue of which of these authorities was the law in question passed? When this is ascertained, we shall be able to determine its extent and application. In this country, we are trying the novel experiment of a divided sovereignty, between the national government and the States. The precise line of division between these is not always distinctly marked. Government is a moral not a mathematical science; and the powers of such a government especially, cannot be defined with mathematical [19 U.S. 264, 435]   accuracy and precision. There is a competition of opposite analogies.

[Cohens v. Virginia, 19 U.S. 264, 6 Wheat. 265, 5 L.Ed. 257 (1821)]

American Banana Co. v. U.S. Fruit, 213 U.S. 347 at 357-358

The foregoing considerations would lead, in case of doubt, to a construction of any statute as intended to be confined in its operation and effect to the territorial limits over which the lawmaker has general and legitimate power. 'All legislation is prima facie territorial.' Ex parte Blain, L. R. 12 Ch. Div. 522, 528; State v. Carter, 27 N. J. L. 499; People v. Merrill, 2 Park. Crim. Rep. 590, 596. Words having universal scope, such as 'every contract in restraint of trade,' 'every person who shall monopolize,' etc., will be taken, as a matter of course, to mean only everyone subject to such legislation, not all that the legislator subsequently may be able to catch. In the case of the present statute, the improbability of the United States attempting to make acts done in Panama or Costa Rica criminal is obvious, yet the law begins by making criminal the acts for which it gives a right to sue. We think it entirely plain that what the defendant did in Panama or Costa Rica is not within the scope of the statute so far as the present suit is concerned. Other objections of a serious nature are urged, but need not be discussed.

[American Banana Co. v. U.S. Fruit, 213 U.S. 347 at 357-358]

Sandberg v. McDonald, 248 U.S. 185 (1918)

"Legislation is presumptively territorial and confined to limits over which the law-making power has jurisdiction. American Banana Company v. United Fruit Co., 213 U.S. 347, 357 , 29 S. Sup. Ct. 511, 16 Ann. Cas. 1047. In Patterson v. Bark Eudora, supra, this court declared such legislation as to foreign vessels in United States ports to be constitutional. We think that [248 U.S. 185, 196]   there is nothing in this section to show that Congress intended to take over the control of such contracts and payments as to foreign vessels except while they were in our ports. Congress could not prevent the making of such contracts in other jurisdictions. If they saw fit to do so, foreign countries would continue to permit such contracts and advance payments no matter what our declared law or policy in regard to them might be as to vessels coming to our ports."

[Sandberg v. McDonald, 248 U.S. 185 (1918)]

New Orleans v. United States, 35 U.S. (10 Pet.) 662 (1836)

"Special provision is made in the constitution, for the cession of jurisdiction from the states over places where the federal government shall establish forts, or other military works. And it is only in these places, or in the territories of the United States, where it can exercise a general jurisdiction."
[New Orleans v. United States, 35 U.S. (10 Pet.) 662 (1836)]

U.S. v. Spelar, 338 U.S. 217 at 222 (1949)

In Foley Bros. v. Filardo,12 we had occasion to refer to the 'canon of construction which teaches that legislation of Congress, unless a contrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States * * * .' That presumption, far from being overcome here, is doubly fortified by the language of this statute and the legislative purpose underlying it.

[U.S. v. Spelar, 338 U.S. 217 at 222 (1949)]

Pollard v. Hagan, 44 U.S. 213, 221, 223 (1845)

“. . .the United States never held any municipal sovereignty, jurisdiction, or right of soil in Alabama or any of the new states which were formed ...

When Alabama was admitted into the union, on an equal footing with the original states, she succeeded to all the rights of sovereignty, jurisdiction, and eminent domain which Georgia possessed at the date of the cession, except so far as this right was diminished by the public lands remaining in the possession and under the control of the United States, for the temporary purposes provided for in the deed of cession and the legislative acts connected with it. Nothing remained to the United States, according to the terms of the agreement, but the public lands. And, if an express stipulation had been inserted in the agreement, granting the municipal right of sovereignty and eminent domain to the United States, such stipulation would have been void and inoperative: because the United States have no constitutional capacity to exercise municipal jurisdiction, sovereignty, or eminent domain, within the limits of a state or elsewhere, except in the cases in which it is expressly granted. 7 ”

[Pollard v. Hagan, 44 U.S. 213, 221, 223 (1845)]

Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82 (1985)

“... the states are separate sovereigns with respect to the federal government”

[Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82 (1985)]

Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 533 (1974)

"Jurisdiction . . . is not defeated as respondents seem to contend, by the possibility that the averments might fail to state a cause of action on which petitioners could actually recover. For it is well settled that the failure to state a proper cause of action calls for a judgment on the merits and not for a dismissal for want of jurisdiction. Whether the complaint states a cause of action on which relief could be granted is a question of law and just as issues of fact it must be decided after and not before the court has assumed jurisdiction over the controversy. If the court does later exercise its jurisdiction to determine that the allegations in the complaint do not state a ground for relief, then dismissal of the case would be on the merits, not for want of jurisdiction." Id., at 682 (citations omitted). 10  

[Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 533 (1974)]

Lowe v. Alexander 15 Cal. 296

It is well settled that no intendments can be indulged in favor of the jurisdiction of inferior courts, but that their jurisdiction must affirmatively appear, or their judgments will be absolutely void. “The general distinction seems to be fully agreed, that power and authority shall be intended as to courts of general jurisdiction, but as to inferior or limited courts, those who claim any right or exemption under their proceedings, are bound to show affirmatively that they had jurisdiction.” (1 Phil. Ev. Cow. & Hill's notes, 206.) There is no doubt about the law upon this subject, and the authorities are so numerous, and so familiar to the profession, that a citation of them is entirely unnecessary."

[Lowe v. Alexander 15 Cal. 296]

Louisville RR v. Motley, 211 U.S. 149, 29 S.Ct. 42 (1908)

"Neither party has questioned that jurisdiction, but it is the duty of this court to see to it that the jurisdiction of the circuit court, which is defined and limited by statute, is not exceeded. This duty we have frequently performed of our own motion. Mansfield, C. & L. M. R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 , 28 S. L. ed. 462, 463, 4 Sup. Ct. Rep. 510; King Iron Bridge & Mfg. Co. v. Otoe County, 120 U.S. 225 , 30 L. ed. 623, Sup. Ct. Rep. 552; Blacklock v. Small, 127 U.S. 96, 105 , 32 S. L. ed. 70, 73, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1096; Cameron v. Hodges, 127 U.S. 322, 326 , 32 S. L. ed. 132, 134, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1154; Metcalf v. Watertown, 128 U.S. 586, 587 , 32 S. L. ed. 543, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 173; Continental Nat. Bank v. Buford, 191 U.S. 120 , 48 L. ed. 119, 24 Sup. Ct. Rep. 54.  "

There was no diversity of citizenship, and it is not and cannot be suggested that there was any ground of jurisdiction, except that the case was 'suit . . . arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States.' 25 Stat. at L. 434, chap. 866, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 509. It is the settled interpretation of these words, as used in this statute, conferring jurisdiction, that a suit arises under the Constitution and laws of the United States only when the plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon those laws or that Constitution. It is not enough that the plaintiff alleges some anticipated defense to his cause of action, and asserts that the defense is invalidated by some provision of the Constitution of the United States.

[Louisville RR v. Motley, 211 U.S. 149, 29 S.Ct. 42 (1908)]

U.S. ex. rel. Brookfield Const. Co. v. Stewart, 284 F.Supp. 94 (1964)

"In addition, there are several well known subordinate principles. The Government may not be sued except by its consent. The United States has not submitted to suit for specific performance*99 or for an injunction. This immunity may not be avoided by naming an officer of the Government as a defendant. The officer may be sued only if he acts in excess of his statutory authority or in violation of the Constitution for then he ceases to represent the Government."

[U.S. ex. rel. Brookfield Const. Co. v. Stewart, 284 F.Supp. 94 (1964)]

PDF Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 104 S.Ct. 1970 (1984)

"Our own experience is fully consistent with the common law's rejection of a rule of judicial immunity from prospective relief. We never have had a rule of absolute judicial immunity from prospective relief, and there is no evidence that the absence of that immunity has had a chilling effect on judicial independence. None of the seminal opinions on judicial immunity, either in England or in this country, has involved [466 U.S. 522, 537]   immunity from injunctive relief. 15 No Court of Appeals ever has concluded that immunity bars injunctive relief against a judge. See n. 6, supra. At least seven Circuits have indicated affirmatively that there is no immunity bar to such relief, and in situations where in their judgment an injunction against a judicial officer was necessary to prevent irreparable injury to a petitioner's constitutional rights, courts have granted that relief. 16 "

[Pulliam v. Allen, 466 U.S. 522, 104 S.Ct. 1970 (1984)]

PDF Dykes v. Hosemann, 743 F.2d 1488 (1984)

We also agree with the Rankin court that immunity for judicial acts in the clear absence of jurisdiction is lost only if the judge knows that he lacks jurisdiction, or acts in the face of clearly valid statutes or case law expressly depriving him of jurisdiction. See 633 F.2d at 849. Issues of jurisdiction are often complex, and judges should be free to decide them without concern that their errors may subject them to liability.

In the instant case, the federal district court judge assumed that a court which had subject matter jurisdiction did not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction. The court refused to reconsider its ruling when the appellants introduced Rankin as new authority. Because the issues of whether Judge Hosemann knew he lacked personal jurisdiction or acted in the face of clearly valid statutes or case law expressly depriving him of jurisdiction are matters for initial determination in the district court, we reverse the order dismissing the claim against Judge Hosemann and remand to the district court for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.FN10

[Dykes v. Hosemann, 743 F.2d 1488 (1984)]

Manning v. Ketcham, 58 F.2d. 948 (1932)

An affirmance results. When a judge acts in the clear absence of all jurisdiction, i. e., of authority to act officially over the subject-matter in hand, the proceeding is coramnon judice. In such a case the judge has lost his judicial function, has become a mere private person, and is liable as a trespasser for the damages resulting from his unauthorized acts. Such has been the law from the days of the case of The Marshalsea, 10 Coke 68. It was recognized as such in Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. (80 U. S.) 335, 351, 20 L. Ed. 646. In State ex rel. Egan v. Wolever, 127 Ind. 306, 26 N. E. 762, 763, the court said: ‘The converse statement of it is also ancient. Where there is no jurisdiction at all there is no judge; the proceeding is as nothing.'

[. . .]

Honesty of purpose and sincere belief that appellant was acting in the discharge of his official duty under his oath of office and for the public welfare is not available as a defense further than in mitigation of damages. See Glazar v. Hubbard, 102 Ky. 68, 69, 42 S. W. 1114, 39 L. R. A. 210, 80 Am. St. Rep. 340; Prell v. McDonald, 7 Kan. 266, 283, 12 Am. Rep. 423; DeCourcey v. Cox, 94 Cal. 665, 669, 30 P. 95; Truesdell v. Combs, 33 Ohio St. 186, 194.

[Manning v. Ketcham, 58 F.2d. 948 (1932)]

PDF Bradley v.Fisher,80 U.S. 335, 13 Wall 335, 351, 352 (1871)

In the present case we have looked into the authorities and are clear, from them, as well as from the principle on which any exemption is maintained, that the qualifying words used were not necessary to a correct statement of the law, and that judges of courts of superior or general jurisdiction are not liable to civil actions for their judicial acts, even when such acts are in excess of their jurisdiction, and are alleged to have been done maliciously or corruptly. A distinction must be here observed between excess of jurisdiction and the clear absence of all jurisdiction over the subject-matter. Where there is clearly no jurisdiction over the subject-matter any authority exercised is a usurped authority, and for the exercise of such authority, when the want of jurisdiction is known to the judge, no excuse is permissible. But where jurisdiction over the subject-matter is invested by law in the judge, or in the court which he holds, the manner and extent in which the jurisdiction shall be exercised are generally as much questions for his determination as any other questions involved in the case, although upon the correctness of his determination in these particulars the validity of his judgments may depend. Thus, if a probate court, invested only with authority over wills and the settlement of estates of deceased persons, should proceed to try parties for public offences, jurisdiction over the subject of offences being entirely wanting in the court, and this being necessarily known to its judge, his commission would afford no protection to him in the exercise of the usurped authority. But if on the other hand a judge of a criminal court, invested with general criminal jurisdiction over offences committed within a certain district, should hold a particular act to be a public offence, which is not by the law made an offence, and proceed to the arrest and trial of a party charged with such act, or should sentence a party convicted to a greater punishment than that authorized by the law upon its proper construction, no personal liability to civil action for such acts would attach to the judge, although those acts would be in excess of his jurisdiction, or of the jurisdiction of the court held by him, for these are particulars for his judicial consideration, whenever his general jurisdiction over the subject-matter is invoked. Indeed some of the most difficult and embarrassing questions which a judicial officer is called upon to consider and determine relate to his jurisdiction, or that of the court held by him, or the manner in which the jurisdiction shall be exercised. And the same principle of exemption from liability which obtains for errors committed in the ordinary prosecution of a suit where there is jurisdiction of both subject and person, applies in cases of this kind, and for the same reasons.

*12 The distinction here made between acts done in excess of jurisdiction and acts where no jurisdiction whatever over the subject-matter exists, was taken by the Court of King's Bench, in Ackerley v. Parkinson. FN18 In that case an action was brought against the vicar-general of the Bishop of Chester and his surrogate, who held the consistorial and episcopal court of the bishop, for excommunicating the plaintiff with the greater excommunication for contumacy, in not taking upon himself the administration of an intestate's effects, to whom the plaintiff was next of kin, the citation issued to him being void, and having been so adjudged. The question presented was, whether under these circumstances the action would lie. The citation being void, the plaintiff had not been legally brought before the court, and the subsequent proceedings were set aside, on appeal, on that ground. Lord Ellenborough observed that it was his opinion that the action was not maintainable if the ecclesiastical court had a general jurisdiction over the subject-matter, although the citation was a nullity, and said, that ‘no authority had been cited to show that the judge would be liable to an action where he has jurisdiction, but has proceeded erroneously, or, as it is termed, inverso ordine.’ Mr. Justice Blanc said there was ‘a material distinction between a case where a party comes to an erroneous conclusion in a matter over which he has jurisdiction and a case where he acts wholly without jurisdiction;’ and held that where the subject-matter was within the jurisdiction of the judge, and the conclusion was erroneous, although the party should by reason of the error be entitled to have the conclusion set aside, and to be restored to his former rights, yet he was not entitled to claim compensation in damages for the injury done by such erroneous conclusion, as if the court had proceeded without any jurisdiction.FN19

[Bradley v.Fisher,80 U.S. 335, 13 Wall 335, 351, 352 (1871)]

Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967)

Few doctrines were more solidly [386 U.S. 547, 554]   established at common law than the immunity of judges from liability for damages for acts committed within their judicial jurisdiction, as this Court recognized when it adopted the doctrine, in Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335 (1872). This immunity applies even when the judge is accused of acting maliciously and corruptly, and it " is not for the protection or benefit of a malicious or corrupt judge, but for the benefit of the public, whose interest it is that the judges should be at liberty to exercise their functions with independence and without fear of consequences." (Scott v. Stansfield, L. R. 3 Ex. 220, 223 (1868), quoted in Bradley v. Fisher, supra, 349, note, at 350.) It is a judge's duty to decide all cases within his jurisdiction that are brought before him, including controversial cases that arouse the most intense feelings in the litigants. His errors may be corrected on appeal, but he should not have to fear that unsatisfied litigants may hound him with litigation charging malice or corruption. Imposing such a burden on judges would contribute not to principled and fearless decision-making but to intimidation.

We do not believe that this settled principle of law was abolished by 1983, which makes liable " every person" who under color of law deprives another person of his civil rights. The legislative record gives no clear indication that Congress meant to abolish wholesale all common-law immunities. Accordingly, this Court held in Tenney v. Brandhove, 341 U.S. 367 (1951), that the immunity of legislators for acts within the legislative role was not abolished. The immunity of judges for acts within the judicial role is equally well established, and [386 U.S. 547, 555]   we presume that Congress would have specifically so provided had it wished to abolish the doctrine. 9  

The common law has never granted police officers an absolute and unqualified immunity, and the officers in this case do not claim that they are entitled to one. Their claim is rather that they should not be liable if they acted in good faith and with probable cause in making an arrest under a statute that they believed to be valid. Under the prevailing view in this country a peace officer who arrests someone with probable cause is not liable for false arrest simply because the innocence of the suspect is later proved. Restatement, Second, Torts 121 (1965); 1 Harper & James, The Law of Torts 3.18, at 277-278 (1956); Ward v. Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Maryland, 179 F.2d 327 (C. A. 8th Cir. 1950). A policeman's lot is not so unhappy that he must choose between being charged with dereliction of duty if he does not arrest when he has probable cause, and being mulcted in damages if he does. Although the matter is not entirely free from doubt, 10 the same consideration would seem to require excusing him from liability for acting under a statute that he reasonably believed to be valid but that was later held unconstitutional, on its face or as applied.

[Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967).]

U.S. v. Will, 449 U.S. 200 (1980)

“In another, not unrelated context, Chief Justice Marshall’s exposition in Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat, 264 (1821), could well have been the explanation of the Rule of Necessity; he wrote that a court “must take jurisdiction if it should. The judiciary cannot, as the legislature may, avoid a measure because it approaches the confines of the constitution. We cannot pass it by, because it is doubtful. With whatever doubts, with whatever difficulties, a case may be attended, we must decide it, if it be brought before us. We have no more right to decline the exercise of jurisdiction which is given, than to usurp that which is not given. The one or the other would be treason to the constitution. Questions may occur which we would gladly avoid; but we cannot avoid them.” Id., at 404 (emphasis added)
[U.S. v. Will, 449 U.S. 200 (1980)]


Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 12(b) provides the escape clause from federal prosecution for the Citizens of the 50 states:

Rule 12.  Defenses and Objections--

(b) "...the following defenses may at the option of the pleader be made by motion:

  (1)  lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

(2)  lack of jurisdiction over the person.

...A motion making any of these defenses shall be made before pleading..

(h)(3)  "Whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action."

Pacemaker Diagnostic Clinic of America Inc. v. Instromedix Inc., 725 F.2d 537 (9th Cir. 02/16/1984)

Pacemaker argues that in the federal system a party may not consent to jurisdiction, so that the parties cannot waive their rights under Article III. The maxim that parties may not consent to the jurisdiction of federal courts is not applicable here. The rule is irrelevant because it applies only where the parties attempt to confer upon an Article III court a subject matter jurisdiction that Congress or the Constitution forbid. See, e.g., Jackson v. Ashton, 33 U.S. (8 Peters), 148, 148-49, 8 L. Ed. 898 (1834); Mansfield, Coldwater & Lake Michigan Railway Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 28 L. Ed. 462, 4 S. Ct. 510 (1884). The limited jurisdiction of the federal courts and the need to respect the boundaries of federalism underlie the rule. In the instant case, however, the subject matter, patents, is exclusively one of federal law. The Supreme Court has explicitly held that Congress may "confer upon federal courts jurisdiction conditioned upon a defendant's consent." Williams v. Austrian, 331 U.S. 642, 652, 91 L. Ed. 1718, 67 S. Ct. 1443 (1947); see Harris v. Avery Brundage Co., 305 U.S. 160, 83 L. Ed. 100, 59 S. Ct. 131 (1938). The litigant waiver in this case is similar to waiver of a defect in jurisdiction over the person, a waiver federal courts permit. Hoffman v. Blaski, 363 U.S. 335, 343, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1254, 80 S. Ct. 1084 (1960).

[Pacemaker Diagnostic Clinic of America Inc. v. Instromedix Inc., 725 F.2d. 537 (9th Cir. 02/16/1984)]

PDF Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme Et L'Antisemitisme, 433 F.3d. 1199 (9th Cir. 01/12/2006)

In International Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945), the Supreme Court held that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant consistent with due process only if he or she has "certain minimum contacts" with the relevant forum "such that the maintenance of the suit does not offend 'traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.' " Id. at 316 (quoting Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940)). Unless a defendant's contacts with a forum are so substantial, continuous, and systematic that the defendant can be deemed to be "present" in that forum for all purposes, a forum may exercise only "specific" jurisdiction - that is, jurisdiction based on the relationship between the defendant's forum contacts and the plaintiff's claim. The parties agree that only specific jurisdiction is at issue in this case.

In this circuit, we analyze specific jurisdiction according to a three-prong test:

(1) The non-resident defendant must purposefully direct his activities or consummate some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or perform some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws;

(2) the claim must be one which arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and

(3) the exercise of jurisdiction must comport with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable.

Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 802 (9th Cir. 2004) (quoting Lake v. Lake, 817 F.2d 1416, 1421 (9th Cir. 1987)). The first prong is determinative in this case. We have sometimes referred to it, in shorthand fashion, as the "purposeful availment" prong. Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802. Despite its label, this prong includes both purposeful availment and purposeful direction. It may be satisfied by purposeful availment of the privilege of doing business in the forum; by purposeful direction of activities at the forum; or by some combination thereof.

We have typically treated "purposeful availment" somewhat differently in tort and contract cases. In tort cases, we typically inquire whether a defendant "purposefully direct[s] his activities" at the forum state, applying an "effects" test that focuses on the forum in which the defendant's actions were felt, whether or not the actions themselves occurred within the forum. See Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 803 (citing Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783, 789-90 (1984)). By contrast, in contract cases, we typically inquire whether a defendant "purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities" or "consummate[s] [a] transaction" in the forum, focusing on activities such as delivering goods or executing a contract. See Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802. However, this case is neither a tort nor a contract case. Rather, it is a case in which Yahoo! argues, based on the First Amendment, that the French court's interim orders are unenforceable by an American court.

LICRA and UEJF contend that we must base our analysis on the so-called "effects" test of Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984), which is normally employed in purposeful direction cases. See, e.g., CE Distrib., LLC v. New Sensor Corp., 380 F.3d 1107, 1111 (9th Cir. 2004); Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 803; Dole Food Co. v. Watts, 303 F.3d 1104, 1111 (9th Cir. 2002). In Calder, a California-based entertainer sued the National Enquirer and various individual defendants for an allegedly defamatory article published in the Enquirer. The article had been written and edited in Florida, and the defendants had few contacts with California. The Court nonetheless upheld the exercise of personal jurisdiction in California because the defendants knew that the article would have an effect in that state. In the words of the Court, the defendants had not engaged in "mere untargeted negligence"; rather, their "intentional, and allegedly tortious, actions were expressly aimed at California." 465 U.S. at 789.

In this circuit, we construe Calder to impose three requirements: "the defendant allegedly [must] have

(1) committed an intentional act,

(2) expressly aimed at the forum state,

(3) causing harm that the defendant knows is likely to be suffered in the forum state." Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 803 (quoting Dole Food, 303 F.3d at 1111).

In some of our cases, we have employed a slightly different formulation of the third requirement, specifying that the act must have "caused harm, the brunt of which is suffered and which the defendant knows is likely to be suffered in the forum state." Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1087 (9th Cir. 2000) (emphasis added). The "brunt" of the harm formulation originated in the principal opinion in Core-Vent Corp. v. Nobel Indus. AB, 11 F.3d 1482 (9th Cir. 1993). That opinion required that the "brunt" of the harm be suffered in the forum state; based on that requirement, it concluded that there was no purposeful availment by the defendant. Id. at 1486. A dissenting judge would have found purposeful availment. Relying on the Supreme Court's opinion in Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, 465 U.S. 770 (1984), he specifically disavowed the "brunt" of the harm formulation. Core-Vent, 11 F.3d at 1492 (Wallace, C.J., dissenting) ("[T]he Supreme Court has already rejected the proposition that the brunt of the harm must be suffered in the forum."). Without discussing the disputed "brunt" of the harm formulation, a concurring judge agreed with the dissenter that purposeful availment could be found. Id. at 1491 (Fernandez, J., concurring) ("I agree with Chief Judge Wallace that purposeful availment can be found in this case."). Later opinions picked up the "brunt" of the harm formulation of the principal opinion in Core-Vent without noting that at least one, and possibly two, of the judges on the panel disagreed with it. See, e.g., Bancroft & Masters, 223 F.3d at 1087; Panavision, 141 F.3d at 1321; Caruth v. Int'l Psychoanalytical Ass'n, 59 F.3d 126, 128 (9th Cir. 1995).

We take this opportunity to clarify our law and to state that the "brunt" of the harm need not be suffered in the forum state. If a jurisdictionally sufficient amount of harm is suffered in the forum state, it does not matter that even more harm might have been suffered in another state. In so stating we are following Keeton, decided the same day as Calder, in which the Court sustained the exercise of personal jurisdiction in New Hampshire even though "[i]t is undoubtedly true that the bulk of the harm done to petitioner occurred outside New Hampshire." 465 U.S. at 780.

LICRA and UEJF contend that the Calder effects test is not satisfied because, in their view, Calder requires that the actions expressly aimed at and causing harm in California be tortious or otherwise wrongful. LICRA and UEJF contend that they have done no more than vindicate their rights under French law, and that their behavior has therefore not been wrongful. They conclude that their behavior therefore does not confer personal jurisdiction in California. We agree with LICRA and UEJF that the Calder effects test is appropriately applied to the interim orders of the French court. But we disagree with them about the meaning and application of Calder.

In any personal jurisdiction case we must evaluate all of a defendant's contacts with the forum state, whether or not those contacts involve wrongful activity by the defendant. See, e.g., Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298, 308 (1992) (upholding jurisdiction to enforce state tax on out-of-state corporation that sent catalogs and goods to forum); Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 479 (1985) (upholding personal jurisdiction based on a course of dealing related to a franchise agreement). Many cases in which the Calder effects test is used will indeed involve wrongful conduct by the defendant. See, e.g., Calder, 465 U. S. at 790, (allegedly defamatory publication purposefully directed at California); Bancroft & Masters, 223 F.3d at 1088 (wrongful interference with California corporation's use of domain name); Sinatra v. Nat'l Enquirer, Inc., 854 F.2d 1191, 1192 (9th Cir. 1988) (unauthorized use of celebrity's name and likeness to promote Swiss clinic); Lake, 817 F.2d at 1422-23 (provision of legal services to secure allegedly improper custody order). But we do not read Calder necessarily to require in purposeful direction cases that all (or even any) jurisdictionally relevant effects have been caused by wrongful acts. We do not see how we could do so, for if an allegedly wrongful act were the basis for jurisdiction, a holding on the merits that the act was not wrongful would deprive the court of jurisdiction.

We therefore analyze all of LICRA and UEJF's contacts with California relating to its dispute with Yahoo!, irrespective of whether they involve wrongful actions by LICRA and UEJF. There are three such contacts. The first two contacts, taken by themselves, do not provide a sufficient basis for jurisdiction. However, the third contact, considered in conjunction with the first two, does provide such a basis.

The first contact is the cease and desist letter that LICRA sent to Yahoo!, demanding that Yahoo! alter its behavior in California to conform to what LICRA contended were the commands of French law. A cease and desist letter is not in and of itself sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction over the sender of the letter. Red Wing Shoe Co. v. Hockerson-Halberstadt, Inc., 148 F.3d 1355, 1361 (Fed. Cir. 1998) ("A patentee should not subject itself to personal jurisdiction in a forum solely by informing a party who happens to be located there of suspected infringement."). There are strong policy reasons to encourage cease and desist letters. They are normally used to warn an alleged rights infringer that its conduct, if continued, will be challenged in a legal proceeding, and to facilitate resolution of a dispute without resort to litigation. If the price of sending a cease and desist letter is that the sender thereby subjects itself to jurisdiction in the forum of the alleged rights infringer, the rights holder will be strongly encouraged to file suit in its home forum without attempting first to resolve the dispute informally by means of a letter. See Red Wing Shoe, 148 F.3d at 1360-1361; Cascade Corp. v. Hiab-Foco AB, 619 F.2d 36, 38 (9th Cir. 1980); Douglas Furniture Co. of Cal., Inc. v. Wood Dimensions, Inc., 963 F. Supp. 899, 903 (C.D. Cal. 1997) ("If any attempt by an intellectual property holder to put an alleged wrongdoer on notice forced the property holder to submit to the jurisdiction of the alleged wrongdoer's forum, an intellectual property owner would be forced to file an action in his own jurisdiction in order to avoid the threat of being haled before a court in another, possibly distant state.").

This is not to say that a cease and desist letter can never be the basis for personal jurisdiction. For example, in Bancroft & Masters, we upheld jurisdiction based on two letters sent by Augusta National Inc. ("ANI"), based in Georgia, contending that Bancroft & Masters, Inc. ("B & M") was improperly using its domain name. One letter was sent to Network Solutions, Inc. ("NSI") in Virginia. NSI was then the sole registrar of domain names. The other, a cease and desist letter, was sent to B & M at its corporate offices in California. B & M sued ANI in federal district court in California seeking a declaratory judgment that it had the right to the disputed domain name. On the assumption that B & M's factual allegation was true, we held that the letters were intended to trigger NSI's dispute resolution procedures, to interfere wrongfully with B & M's use of its domain name, and to misappropriate that name for ANI's own use. 223 F.3d at 1087. We therefore upheld jurisdiction under Calder based on the letters.

LICRA's letter was not used to facilitate settlement. Although it stated that LICRA would file suit in eight days if Yahoo! had not complied with LICRA's demands, LICRA filed suit five days after the date of the letter. Nonetheless, LICRA's letter to Yahoo! was more like a normal cease and desist letter than the letters at issue in Bancroft & Masters, for it was not abusive, tortious or otherwise wrongful. Rather, it simply alerted Yahoo! to its view of French law and stated its intent to file suit in France to enforce that law against Yahoo!.

Under these circumstances, we do not believe that LICRA's letter is a contact that would, if considered alone, justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction.

LICRA and UEJF's second contact (or, more precisely, set of contacts) with California was service of process on Yahoo! in California. LICRA first effected service of process to commence the French suit. LICRA and UEJF later effected service of the French court's two interim orders. We do not regard the service of documents in connection with a suit brought in a foreign court as contacts that by themselves justify the exercise of personal jurisdiction over a foreign litigant in a United States court. If we were to hold that such service were a sufficient basis for jurisdiction, we would be providing a forum-choice tool by which any United States resident sued in a foreign country and served in the United States could bring suit in the United States, regardless of any other basis for jurisdiction. We are unaware of any case so holding, and Yahoo! has cited none.

Third, and most important, LICRA and UEJF have obtained two interim orders from the French court directing Yahoo! to take actions in California, on threat of a substantial penalty. We agree with LICRA and UEJF that the French court's orders are appropriately analyzed under the Calder effects test.

The first two requirements are that LICRA and UEJF "have '(1) committed an intentional act, [which was] (2) expressly aimed at the forum state[.]' " Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 805 (quoting Dole Food, 303 F.3d at 1111). It is obvious that both requirements are satisfied. LICRA intentionally filed suit in the French court. Indeed, it had previously signaled its intent to file suit in its April 5 letter to Yahoo!. UEJF intentionally joined LICRA's suit ten days later. Further, LICRA and UEJF's suit was expressly aimed at California. The suit sought, and the French court granted, orders directing Yahoo! to perform significant acts in California. It is of course true that the effect desired by the French court would be felt in France, but that does not change the fact that significant acts were to be performed in California. The servers that support are located in California, and compliance with the French court's orders necessarily would require Yahoo! to make some changes to those servers. Further, to the extent that any financial penalty might be imposed pursuant to the French court's orders, the impact of that penalty would be felt by Yahoo! at its corporate headquarters in California. See Dole Food, 303 F.3d at 1113-14.

The third requirement is that LICRA and UEJF's acts " 'caus[e] harm that the defendant knows is likely to be suffered in the forum state.' " Id. This requirement is somewhat problematic, for Yahoo! has not shown or even alleged any specific way in which it has altered its behavior in response to the French court's interim orders. Yahoo! changed its policy with respect to after the French court's orders were entered, but Yahoo! has consistently maintained that the change was unrelated to the orders. Therefore, even if we were persuaded that Yahoo!'s change of policy harmed it in some way, Yahoo! itself has represented that such harm was not caused by any action of LICRA or UEJF. Nor is it clear that, absent the interim orders, Yahoo! would change its policy in the future. Indeed, Yahoo! represented to us during oral argument that there is nothing that it would like to do, but is now refraining from doing, because of the interim orders.

Yahoo!, however, points to the possibility that a substantial penalty will be assessed under the French court's November 20 interim order. It points in particular to the provision in that order specifying that the potential amount of the penalty increases by 100,000 Francs for every day that Yahoo! is in violation of the court's orders. Yahoo! represents to us that even now, after its change of policy, it is acting in plain violation of the orders. It contends that a declaratory judgment determining the enforceability by an American court of the French court's orders will allow it to determine an appropriate course of conduct with respect to the activities in which it continues to engage. The district court found that, notwithstanding its new policy, the auction site still offers certain items for sale (such as stamps, coins, and a copy of Mein Kampf) which appear to violate the French Order. While Yahoo! has removed the Protocol of the Elders of Zion from its auction site, it has not prevented access to numerous other sites which reasonably "may be construed as constituting an apology for Nazism or a contesting of Nazi crimes."

[Yahoo! Inc. v. La Ligue Contre Le Racisme Et L'Antisemitisme, 433 F.3d. 1199 (9th Cir. 01/12/2006)]

Annotated Constitution, Article III, Congressional Research Service

Suits by Foreign States.—The privilege of a recognized foreign state to sue in the courts of another state upon the principle of comity is recognized by both international law and American constitutional law.1029 To deny a sovereign this privilege “would manifest a want of comity and friendly feeling.”1030 Although national sovereignty is continuous, a suit in behalf of a national sovereign can be maintained in the courts of the United States only by a government which has been recognized by the political branches of our own government as the authorized government of[p.775]the foreign state.1031 As the responsible agency for the conduct of foreign affairs, the State Department is the normal means of suggesting to the courts that a sovereign be granted immunity from a particular suit.1032 Once a foreign government avails itself of the privilege of suing in the courts of the United States, it subjects itself to the procedure and rules of decision governing those courts and accepts whatever liabilities the court may decide to be a reasonable incident of bringing the suit.1033 The rule that a foreign nation instituting a suit in a federal district court cannot invoke sovereign immunity as a defense to a counterclaim growing out of the same transaction has been extended to deny a claim of immunity as a defense to a counterclaim extrinsic to the subject matter of the suit but limited to the amount of the sovereign’s claim.1034 Moreover, certain of the benefits extending to a domestic sovereign do not extend to a foreign sovereign suing in the courts of the United States. A foreign state does not receive the benefit of the rule which exempts the United States and its member States from the operation of the statute of limitations, because those considerations of public policy back of the rule are regarded as absent in the case of the foreign sovereign.1035

[. . .]

Narrow Construction of the Jurisdiction.—As in cases of diversity jurisdiction, suits brought to the federal courts under this category must clearly state in the record the nature of the parties. As early as 1809, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal court could not take jurisdiction of a cause where the defendants were described in the record as “late of the district of Maryland,” but were not designated as citizens of Maryland, and plaintiffs were described as aliens and subjects of the United Kingdom.1037 The meticulous care manifested in this case appeared twenty years later when the Court narrowly construed Sec. 11 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, vesting the federal courts with jurisdiction when an alien was a party, in order to keep it within the limits of this clause. The judicial power was further held not to extend to private suits in which an alien is a party, unless a citizen is the adverse party.1038 This interpretation was extended in 1870 by a holding that if there is more than one plaintiff or defendant, each plaintiff or defendant must be competent to sue or liable to suit.1039 These rules, however, do not preclude a suit between citizens of the same State if the plaintiffs are merely nominal parties and are suing on behalf of an alien.1040

[Annotated Constitution, Article III, Congressional Research Service]


In June, 1957, the government of the United States published a work entitled Jurisdiction Over Federal Areas Within The States: Report of the Interdepartmental Committee for the Study of Jurisdiction Over Federal Areas Within the States, Part II. The Committee stated at pg. 45 :

"It scarcely needs to be said that unless there has been a transfer of jurisdiction pursuant to clause 17 by a Federal acquisition of land with State consent, or by cession from the State to the Federal Government, or unless the Federal Government has reserved jurisdiction upon admission of the State, the Federal Government possesses no legislative jurisdiction over any area within a State, such jurisdiction being for exercise by the State, subject to non-interference by the State with Federal functions..."

"The consent requirement of Article I, section 8, clause 17 was intended by the framers of the Constitution to preserve the State's jurisdictional integrity against federal encroachment. The Federal Government cannot, by unilateral action on its part, acquire legislative jurisdiction over any area within the exterior boundaries of a State," Id., at 46.

According to the April, 1956, report (Part I), pages 41-47 of the Interdepartmental Committee "Study Of Jurisdiction Over Federal Areas Within The States," the court has recognized three methods by which the federal government may acquire exclusive legislative jurisdiction over a physical area:

mg1but.jpg    Constitutional consent.--Other than the District of Columbia, the Constitution gives express recognition to but one means of Federal acquisition of legislative jurisdiction-- purchase with State consent under article I, section 8, clause 17.

..."and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the creation of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings...."

"The debates in the Constitutional Convention and State ratifying conventions leave little doubt that both the opponents and proponents of Federal exercise of exclusive legislature jurisdiction over the seat of government were of the view that a constitutional provision such as clause 17 was essential if the Federal government was to have such jurisdiction.... While, as has been indicated in the preceding chapter, little attention was given in the course of the debates to Federal exercise of exclusive legislative jurisdiction over areas other than the seat of government, it is reasonable to assume that it was the general view that a special constitution provision was essential to enable the United States to acquire exclusive legislative jurisdiction over any area..."

According to the 1956 report, pages 7-8, "... the provision of the second portion, for transfer of like jurisdiction [as the District of Columbia] to the Federal Government over other areas acquired for Federal purposes, was not uniformly exercised during the first 50 years of the existence of the United States. It was exercised with respect to most, but not all, lighthouse sites, with respect to various forts and arsenals, and with respect to a number of other individual properties. But search of appropriate records indicates that during this period it was often the practice of the Government merely to purchase the lands upon which its installations were to be placed and to enter into occupancy for the purposes intended, without also acquiring legislative jurisdiction over the lands."

mg1but.jpg    "Federal reservation.--In Fort Leavenworth R.R. v. Lowe, 114 U.S. 525 (1885), the Supreme Court approved a method not specified in the Constitution of securing legislative jurisdiction in the United States. Although the matter was not in issue in the case, the Supreme Court said (p. 526):

"The land constituting the Reservation was part of the territory acquired in 1803 by cession from France, and until the formation of the State of Kansas, and her admission into the Union, the United States possessed the rights of a proprietor, and had political dominion and sovereignty over it. For many years before that admission it had been reserved from sale by the proper authorities of the United States for military purposes, and occupied by them as a military post. The jurisdiction of the United States over it during this time was necessarily paramount. But in 1861 Kansas was admitted into the Union upon an equal footing with the original States, that is, with the same rights of political dominion and sovereignty, subject like them only to the Constitution of the United States. Congress might undoubtedly, upon such admission, have stipulated for retention of the political authority, dominion and legislative power of the United States over the Reservation so long as it should be used for military purposes by the government; that is, it could have excepted the place from the jurisdiction of Kansas, as one needed for the uses of the general government. But from some cause, inadvertence perhaps, or over-confidence that a recession of such jurisdiction could be had whenever desired, no such stipulation or exception was made."(See also United States v. Gratoit concerning post-statehood reservation of mines, salt licks, salt springs, and mill seats in the (former) Eastern ceded territories.)

mg1but.jpg     "State cession.--In the same case, ( Fort Leavenworth R.R. v. Lowe,)   the United States Supreme Court sustained the validity of an act of Kansas ceding to the United States legislative jurisdiction over the Fort Leavenworth military reservation, but reserving to itself the right to serve criminal and civil process in the reservation and the right to tax railroad, bridge, and other corporations, and their franchises and property on the reservation. In the course of its opinion sustaining the cession of legislative jurisdiction , the Supreme Court said (p. 540):

"... Though the jurisdiction and authority of the general government are essentially different form those of the State, they are not those of a different country; and the two, the State and general government, may deal with each other in any way they may deem best to carry out the purposes of the Constitution. It is for the protection and interests of the States, their people and property, as well as for the protection and interests of the people generally of the United States, that forts, arsenals, and other buildings for public uses are constructed within the States. As instrumentalities for the execution of the powers of the general government, they are, as already said, exempt from such control of the States as would defeat or impair their use for those purposes; and if, to their more effective use, a cession of legislative authority and political jurisdiction by the State would be desirable, we do not perceive any objection to its grant by the Legislature of the State. Such cession is really as much for the benefit of the State as it is for the benefit of the United States."

The United States v. Worrall, 32 U.S. 384 (1798):

"Whenever a government has been established, I have always supposed, that a power to preserve itself, was a necessary, and an inseparable, concomitant. But the existence of the Federal government would be precarious, it could no longer be called an independent government, if, for the punishment of offences of this nature [bribery of a tax collector], tending to obstruct and pervert the administration of its affairs, an appeal must be made to the State tribunals, or the offenders must escape with absolute impunity. The power to punish misdemeanors, is originally and strictly a common law power; of which, I think, the United States are constitutionally possessed. It might have been exercised by Congress in the form of a Legislative act; but, it may, also, in my opinion be enforced in a course of Judicial proceeding. Whenever an offence aims at the subversion of any Federal institution, or at the corruption of its public officers, it is an offence against the well-being of the United States; from its very nature, it is cognizable under their authority; and, consequently, it is within the jurisdiction of this Court, by virtue of the 11th section of the Judicial act. [2 U.S. 384, 396]   The Court being divided in opinion, it became a doubt, whether sentence could be pronounced upon the defendant; and a wish was expressed by the Judges and the Attorney of the District, that the case might be put into such a form, as would admit of obtaining the ultimate decision of the Supreme Court, upon the important principle of the discussion: But the counsel for the prisoner did not think themselves authorised to enter into a compromise of that nature. The Court, after a short consultation, and declaring, that the sentence was mitigated in consideration of the defendant's circumstances, proceeded to adjudge,

"That the defendant be imprisoned for three months; that he pay a fine of 200 dollars; and that he stand committed, 'till this sentence be complied with, and the costs of prosecution paid." 

[The United States v. Worrall, 32 U.S. 384 (1798)]

Utah Power and Light v. United States, 243 U.S. 389 (1917)

The first position taken by the defendants is that their claims must be tested by the laws of the state in which the lands are situate rather than by the legislation of Congress, and in support of this position they say that lands of the United States within a state, when not used or needed for a fort or other governmental purpose of the [243 U.S. 389, 404]   United States, are subject to the jurisdiction, powers, and laws of the state in the same way and to the same extent as are similar lands of others. To this we cannot assent. Not only does the Constitution (art. 4, 3, cl. 2) commit to Congress the power 'to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting' the lands of the United States, but the settled course of legislation, congressional and state, and repeated decisions of this court, have gone upon the theory that the power of Congress is exclusive, and that only through its exercise in some form can rights in lands belonging to the United States be acquired. True, for many purposes a state has civil and criminal jurisdiction over lands within its limits belonging to the United States, but this jurisdiction does not extend to any matter that is not consistent with full power in the United States to protect its lands, to control their use, and to prescribe in what manner others may require rights in them. Thus, while the state may punish public offenses, such as murder or larceny, committed on such lands, and may tax private property, such as live stock, located thereon, it may not tax the lands themselves, or invest others with any right whatever in them. United States v. McBratney, 104 U.S. 621, 624 , 26 S. L. ed. 869, 870; Van Brocklin v. Tennessee (Van Brocklin v. Anderson) 117 U.S. 151, 168 , 2 S.. L. ed. 845, 851, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 670; Wisconsin C. R. Co. v. Price County, 133 U.S. 496, 504 , 33 S. L. ed. 687, 690, 10 Sup. Ct. Rep. 341. From the earliest times Congress by its legislation, applicable alike in the states and territories, has regulated in many particulars the use by others of the lands of the United States, has prohibited and made punishable various acts calculated to be injurious to them or to prevent their use in the way intended, and has provided for and controlled the acquisition of rights of way over them for highways, railroads, canals, ditches, telegraph lines, and the like. The states and the public have almost uniformly accepted this legislation as controlling, and in the instances where it has been questioned in this court its validity has been upheld and [243 U.S. 389, 405]   its supremacy over state enactments sustained. Wilcox v. Jackson, 13 Pet. 498, 516, 10 L. ed. 264, 273; Jourdan v. Barrett, 4 How. 169, 185, 11 L. ed. 924, 931; Gibson v. Chouteau, 13 Wall. 92, 99, 20 L. ed. 534, 536; Camfield v. United States, 167 U.S. 518 , 42 L. ed. 260, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 864; Light v. United States, 220 U.S. 523, 536 , 537 S., 55 L. ed. 570, 574, 31 Sup. Ct. Rep. 485. And so we are of opinion that the inclusion within a state of lands of the United States does not take from Congress the power to control their occupancy and use, to protect them from trespass and injury, and to prescribe the conditions upon which others may obtain rights in them, even though this may involve the exercise in some measure of what commonly is known as the police power. 'A different rule,' as was said in Camfield v. United States, 167 U.S. 518 , 42 L. ed. 260, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 864, 'would place the public domain of the United States completely at the mercy of state legislation.'

It results that state laws, including those relating to the exercise of the power of eminent domain, have no bearing upon a controversy such as is here presented, save as they may have been adopted or made applicable by Congress.

[Utah Power and Light v. United States, 243 U.S. 389 (1917) ]

Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466 (2004)

The Court is correct, in my view, to conclude that federal courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the legality of the detention of foreign nationals held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. While I reach the same conclusion, my analysis follows a different course. JUSTICE SCALIA exposes the weakness in the Court's conclusion that Braden v. 30th Judicial Circuit Court of Ky., 410 U.S. 484 (1973), "overruled the statutory predicate to Eisentrager's holding," ante at ___. As he explains, the Court's approach is not a plausible reading of Braden or Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950). In my view, the correct course is to follow the framework of Eisentrager.

Eisentrager considered the scope of the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus against the backdrop of the constitutional command of the separation of powers. The issue before the Court was whether the Judiciary could exercise jurisdiction over the claims of German prisoners held in the Landsberg prison in Germany following the cessation of hostilities in Europe. The Court concluded the petition could not be entertained. The petition was not within the proper realm of the judicial power. It concerned matters within the exclusive province of the Executive, or the Executive and Congress, to determine.

The Court began by noting the "ascending scale of rights" that courts have recognized for individuals depending on their connection to the United States. Id. at 770. Citizenship provides a longstanding basis for jurisdiction, the Court noted, and among aliens physical presence within the United States also "gave the Judiciary power to act." Id. at 769, 771. This contrasted with the "essential pattern for seasonable Executive constraint of enemy aliens." Id. at 773. The place of the detention was also important to the jurisdictional question, the Court noted. Physical presence in the United States "implied protection," id. at 777-778, whereas in Eisentrager "th[e] prisoners at no relevant time were within any territory over which the United States is sovereign," id. at 778. The Court next noted that the prisoners in Eisentrager "were actual enemies" of the United States, proven to be so at trial, and thus could not justify "a limited opening of our courts" to distinguish the "many [aliens] of friendly personal disposition to whom the status of enemy" was unproven. Id. at 778. Finally, the Court considered the extent to which jurisdiction would "hamper the war effort and bring aid and comfort to the enemy." Id. at 779. Because the prisoners in Eisentrager were proven enemy aliens found and detained outside the United States, and because the existence of jurisdiction would have had a clear harmful effect on the Nation's military affairs, the matter was appropriately left to the Executive Branch and there was no jurisdiction for the courts to hear the prisoner's claims.

The decision in Eisentrager indicates that there is a realm of political authority over military affairs where the judicial power may not enter. The existence of this realm acknowledges the power of the President as Commander in Chief, and the joint role of the President and the Congress, in the conduct of military affairs. A faithful application of Eisentrager, then, requires an initial inquiry into the general circumstances of the detention to determine whether the Court has the authority to entertain the petition and to grant relief after considering all of the facts presented. A necessary corollary of Eisentrager is that there are circumstances in which the courts maintain the power and the responsibility to protect persons from unlawful detention even where military affairs are implicated. See also Ex parte Milligan, 4 Wall. 2 (1866).

The facts here are distinguishable from those in Eisentrager in two critical ways, leading to the conclusion that a federal court may entertain the petitions. First, Guantanamo Bay is in every practical respect a United States territory, and it is one far removed from any hostilities. The opinion of the Court well explains the history of its possession by the United States. In a formal sense, the United States leases the Bay; the 1903 lease agreement states that Cuba retains "ultimate sovereignty" over it. Lease of Lands for Coaling and Naval Stations, Feb. 23, 1903, U.S.-Cuba, Art. III, T.S. No. 418. At the same time, this lease is no ordinary lease. Its term is indefinite and at the discretion of the United States. What matters is the unchallenged and indefinite control that the United States has long exercised over Guantanamo Bay. From a practical perspective, the indefinite lease of Guantanamo Bay has produced a place that belongs to the United States, extending the "implied protection" of the United States to it. Eisentrager, supra, at 777-778.

The second critical set of facts is that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are being held indefinitely, and without benefit of any legal proceeding to determine their status. In Eisentrager, the prisoners were tried and convicted by a military commission of violating the laws of war and were sentenced to prison terms. Having already been subject to procedures establishing their status, they could not justify "a limited opening of our courts" to show that they were "of friendly personal disposition" and not enemy aliens. 339 U.S. at 778. Indefinite detention without trial or other proceeding presents altogether different considerations. It allows friends and foes alike to remain in detention. It suggests a weaker case of military necessity and much greater alignment with the traditional function of habeas corpus. Perhaps, where detainees are taken from a zone of hostilities, detention without proceedings or trial would be justified by military necessity for a matter of weeks; but as the period of detention stretches from months to years, the case for continued detention to meet military exigencies becomes weaker.

In light of the status of Guantanamo Bay and the indefinite pretrial detention of the detainees, I would hold that federal court jurisdiction is permitted in these cases. This approach would avoid creating automatic statutory authority to adjudicate the claims of persons located outside the United States, and remains true to the reasoning of Eisentrager. For these reasons, I concur in the judgment of the Court.

[Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466 (2004)]

Teledyne, Inc. v. Kone Corp., 892 F.2d. 1404, C.A.9 (Cal.)  (1989)

Unlike state courts, the lower federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. “It remains rudimentary law that ‘as regards all courts of the United States inferior to [the Supreme Court] two things are necessary to create jurisdiction, whether original or appellate. The Constitution must have given to the court the capacity to take it, and an act of Congress must have supplied it····’ ” Finley, 109 S.Ct. at 2006 (quoting The Mayor v. Cooper, 6 Wall. 247, 252, 18 L.Ed. 851 (1868)).

[Teledyne, Inc. v. Kone Corp., 892 F.2d. 1404, C.A.9 (Cal.)  (1989)]

Jones v. Mayer, 392 U.S. 409 (1968):  An "act of Congress" that has national scope and operates inside the states

"As its text reveals, the Thirteenth Amendment "is not a mere prohibition of State laws establishing or upholding slavery, but an absolute declaration that slavery or involuntary servitude shall not exist in any part of the United States." Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 20 . It has never been doubted, therefore, "that the power vested in Congress to enforce the article by appropriate legislation," ibid., includes the power to enact laws "direct and primary, operating upon the acts of individuals, whether sanctioned by State legislation or not." Id., at 23. 74  

"Thus, the fact that 1982 operates upon the unofficial acts of private individuals, whether or not sanctioned by state law, presents no constitutional problem. If Congress has power under the Thirteenth Amendment to eradicate conditions that prevent Negroes from buying and renting property because of their race or color, then no federal statute calculated to achieve that objective [392 U.S. 409, 439]   can be thought to exceed the constitutional power of Congress simply because it reaches beyond state action to regulate the conduct of private individuals. The constitutional question in this case, therefore, comes to this: Does the authority of Congress to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment "by appropriate legislation" include the power to eliminate all racial barriers to the acquisition of real and personal property? We think the answer to that question is plainly yes.

"By its own unaided force and effect," the Thirteenth Amendment "abolished slavery, and established universal freedom." Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 20 . Whether or not the Amendment itself did any more than that - a question not involved in this case - it is at least clear that the Enabling Clause of that Amendment empowered Congress to do much more. For that clause clothed "Congress with power to pass all laws necessary and proper for abolishing all badges and incidents of slavery in the United States." Ibid. (Emphasis added.)
Those who opposed passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 argued in effect that the Thirteenth Amendment merely authorized Congress to dissolve the legal bond by which the Negro slave was held to his master. 75 Yet many had earlier opposed the Thirteenth Amendment on the very ground that it would give Congress virtually unlimited power to enact laws for the protection of Negroes in every State. 76 And the majority leaders in Congress - who were, after all, the authors of the Thirteenth Amendment - had no doubt that its Enabling Clause contemplated the sort of positive legislation that [392 U.S. 409, 440]   was embodied in the 1866 Civil Rights Act. Their chief spokesman, Senator Trumbull of Illinois, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had brought the Thirteenth Amendment to the floor of the Senate in 1864. In defending the constitutionality of the 1866 Act, he argued that, if the narrower construction of the Enabling Clause were correct, then
"the trumpet of freedom that we have been blowing throughout the land has given an `uncertain sound,' and the promised freedom is a delusion. Such was not the intention of Congress, which proposed the constitutional amendment, nor is such the fair meaning of the amendment itself. . . . I have no doubt that under this provision . . . we may destroy all these discriminations in civil rights against the black man; and if we cannot, our constitutional amendment amounts to nothing. It was for that purpose that the second clause of that amendment was adopted, which says that Congress shall have authority, by appropriate legislation, to carry into effect the article prohibiting slavery. Who is to decide what that appropriate legislation is to be? The Congress of the United States; and it is for Congress to adopt such appropriate legislation as it may think proper, so that it be a means to accomplish the end." 77  
"Surely Senator Trumbull was right. Surely Congress has the power under the Thirteenth Amendment rationally to determine what are the badges and the incidents of slavery, and the authority to translate that determination into effective legislation. Nor can we say that the determination Congress has made is an irrational [392 U.S. 409, 441]   one. For this Court recognized long ago that, whatever else they may have encompassed, the badges and incidents of slavery - its "burdens and disabilities" - included restraints upon "those fundamental rights which are the essence of civil freedom, namely, the same right . . . to inherit, purchase, lease, sell and convey property, as is enjoyed by white citizens." Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 22 . 78 Just as the Black Codes, enacted after the Civil [392 U.S. 409, 442]   War to restrict the free exercise of those rights, were substitutes for the slave system, so the exclusion of Negroes from white communities became a substitute for the Black Codes. And when racial discrimination herds men [392 U.S. 409, 443]   into ghettos and makes their ability to buy property turn on the color of their skin, then it too is a relic of slavery.

"Negro citizens, North and South, who saw in the Thirteenth Amendment a promise of freedom - freedom to "go and come at pleasure" 79 and to "buy and sell when they please" 80 - would be left with "a mere paper guarantee" 81 if Congress were powerless to assure that a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white man. At the very least, the freedom that Congress is empowered to secure under the Thirteenth Amendment includes the freedom to buy whatever a white man can buy, the right to live wherever a white man can live. If Congress cannot say that being a free man means at least this much, then the Thirteenth Amendment made a promise the Nation cannot keep." 

[Jones v. Mayer, 392 U.S. 409 (1968)]