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   Chapter 75 1793).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 1914

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: The Judiciary Act.]

By the Constitution there was to be a supreme court and such inferior courts as Congress should create. By the Act of Sept. 24, 1789 the federal judicial system was organized substantially as it now stands. Following the precedent of some of the States, two grades of inferior courts were created,-the district and the circuit. The judicial business of the country was small, and for the time being the supreme justices were to hold the circuit courts. Prosecuting officers and marshals were appointed, and here is to be found the germ of the present system of limited terms for public officials: they were to have commissions which should run four years; it seems to have been tacitly understood that they would be reappointed. A few brief clauses defined the manner in which suits could be appealed from the State courts to the national. This statute has made it possible to apply federal law in the same way throughout t

he Union: errors of construction, and divergencies of judgment involving the national Constitution, laws, and treaties, are corrected through this power of appeal to one central supreme tribunal. A little later an Act was passed defining crimes against the United States. The courts were speedily organized, and John Jay of New York was made the first chief justice.

[Sidenote: Important decisions.]

For a few years no important decisions were made by the court; but in February, 1793, a suit was entertained against the State of Georgia; soon after, one was entered against the State of Massachusetts. Georgia replied by passing a statute punishing with death any United States marshal who might attempt to serve a process upon her. Massachusetts urged the passing of an eleventh constitutional amendment; it was duly adopted in 1798, and prohibited suits before a federal court against a State, by a citizen of another State or of a foreign country.

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