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can in form in Oregon, within the meaning of Section 4, Article IV, of the Constitution of the United States, providing, "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government."

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.




In other words, the propositions each and all proceed alone upon the theory that the adoption of the initiative and referendum destroyed all government republican in form in Oregon. This being so, the contention, if held to be sound, would necessarily affect the validity, not only of the particular statute which is before us, but of every other statute passed in Oregon since the adoption of the initiative and referendum. And indeed, the propositions go further than this, since in their essence they assert that there is no governmental function, legislative or judicial, in Oregon, because it cannot be assumed, if the proposition be well founded, that there is, at one and the same time, one and the same government, which is republican in form, and not of that character.

We shall not stop to consider the text to point out how absolutely barren it is of support for the contentions sought to be based upon it, since the repugnancy of those contentions to the letter and spirit of that text is so conclusively established by prior decisions of this court as to cause the matter to be absolutely foreclosed.

In view of the importance of the subject, the apparent misapprehension on one side and seeming misconception on the other, suggested by the argument as to the full significance of the previous doctrine, we do not content ourselves with a mere citation of the cases, but state more at length than we otherwise would the issues and the doctrine expounded in the leading and absolutely controlling case,-Luther v. Borden, 7 How. 1.

The case came from a circuit court of the United States. It was an action of damages for trespass. The case grew out of what is commonly known as the Dorr Rebellion in Rhode Island, and the conflict which was brought about by the effort of the adherents of that alleged government, sometimes described as "the government established by a voluntary convention," to overthrow the established charter government. The defendants justified on the ground that the acts done by them, charged as a trespass, were done under the authority of the charter government during the prevalence of martial law, and for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of an armed revolt by the supporters of the insurrectionary government. The plaintiffs, on the contrary, asserted the validity of the voluntary government, and denied the legality of the charter government. In the course of the trial the plaintiff, to support the contention of the illegality of the charter government and the legality of the voluntary government, “although that government never was able to exercise any authority in the State, nor to command obedience to its laws or to its officers," offered certain evidence tending to show



that nevertheless it was "the lawful and established government,” upon the ground that its powers to govern have been ratified by a large majority of the male people of the State of the age of twentyone years and upwards, and also by a large majority of those who were entitled to vote for general officers cast in favor of a Constitution which was submitted as the result of a voluntarily assembled convention of what was alleged to be the people of the State of Rhode Island. The circuit court rejected this evidence and instructed the jury that, as the charter government was the established State government at the time the trespass occurred, the defendants were justified in acting under the authority of that government. This court, coming to review this ruling, at the outset pointed out “the novelty and serious nature" of the question which it was called upon to decide. Attention also was at the inception directed to the far-reaching effect and gravity of the consequences which would be produced by sustaining the right of the plaintiff to assail and set aside the established government by recovering damages from the defendants for acts done by them under the authority of, and for the purpose of sustaining, such established government.

Moreover, the Constitution of the United States, as far as it has provided for an emergency of this kind and authorized the general government to interfere in the domestic concerns of a State, has treated the subject as political in its nature, and placed the power in the hands of that department.

The fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States provides that the United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on the application of the legislature or of the Executive (when the legislature cannvi be convened) against domestic violence.

Under this article of the Constitution it rests with Congress to decide what government is the established one in a State. For, as the United States guarantee to each State a republican government, Congress must necessarily decide what government is established in the State before it can determine whether it is republican or not. And when the senators and representatives of a State are admitted into the councils of the Union, the authority of the government under which they are appointed, as well as its republican character, is recognized by the proper constitutional authority. And its decision is binding on every other department of the government, and could not be questioned in a judicial tribunal. It is true that the contest in this case did not last long enough to bring the matter to this issue ; and as no senators or representatives were elected under the authority of the government of which Mr. Dorr was the head, Congress was not called upon to decide the controversy. Yet the right to decide is placed there, and not in the courts.

As the issues presented, in their very essence are and have long



since by this court been definitely determined to be political and governmental, and embraced within the scope of the powers conferred upon Congress, and not, therefore, within the reach of judicial power, it follows that the case presented is not within our jurisdiction, and the writ of error must therefore be, and it is, dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

Note.—The provisions in the Constitution of Oregon for the initiative, the referendum and the recall are given in the appendix.

Note.—The case of Kiernan vs. City of Portland was decided by the Supreme Court at the same time with the Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Company vs. Oregon case. The Constitution of Oregon reserved to the voters of a municipality the powers of the initiative and referendum as to all local, special and municipal legislation. The people of the city of Portland by initiative petition requested the city to build a bridge across the Willamette River at Broadway street within the said city. An amendment to the city charter providing for the construction of the bridge and for issuing bonds in a sum not to exceed $2,000,000 to pay for the same adopted by popular vote. Kiernan, a taxpayer of the city, brought suit to restrain the sale of the bonds, upon the ground that the initiative proceedings were unconstitutional, as the State government has ceased to be republican in form since the adoption of the initiative and referendum. The Court held that the matter was not a judicial question, but a political one, solely for Congress to determine.


Section 7.


See cases grouped under Chapter II, Section VII, Restrictions ou the Powers of Congress.


State Comity

Section 1.




116 U. S., 1. 1885.

Michael Hanley and William F. Welch recovered a judgment in the State of Pennsylvania against two joint defendants, Charles Donoghue, who had been duly summoned to appear before the court, and John Donoghue, who had not been duly summoned. This judgment was valid and enforceable under the laws of Pennsylvania. Hanley and Welch sued Charles Donoghue on this judgment in Maryland, but the lower court refused to consider the judgment as binding upon it and gave judgment for Donoghue. This decision was affirmed by the highest court of the State. Hanley and Welch then appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court on the ground that they were denied a right and privilege to which they are entitled under Art. IV, Sec. 1. of the Constitution of the United States, which declares that "full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other State; and the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved and the effect thereof."

By the settled construction of these provisions of the Constitution and statutes of the United States, a judgment of a State court, in a cause within its jurisdiction, and against a defendant lawfully summoned, or against lawfully attached property of an absent defendant, is entitled to as much force and effect against the person summoned or the property attached, when the question is presented for decision in a court of another State, as it has in the State in which it was rendered. And it is within the power of the legislature of a State to enact that judgments which shall be rendered in its courts in actions against joint defendants, one of whom has not been duly served with process, shall be valid as to those who have been so served, or who have appeared in the action.




No court is to be charged with the knowledge of foreign laws; but they are well understood to be facts, which must, like other facts, be proved before they can be received in a court of justice. It is equally well settled that the several States of the Union are to be considered as in this respect foreign to each other, and that the courts of one State are not presumed to know, and therefore not bound to take judicial notice of, the laws of another State. *

Judgments recovered in one State of the Union, when proved in the courts of another, differ from judgments recovered in a foreign country in no other respect than that of not being re-examinable upon the merits, nor impeachable for fraud in obtaining them, if rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the cause of the parties.

Congress, in the execution of the power conferred upon it by the Constitution, having prescribed the mode of attestation of records of the courts of one State to entitle them to be proved in the courts of another State, and having enacted that records so authenticated shall have such faith and credit in every court within the United States as they have by law or usage in the State from which they are taken, a record of a judgment so authenticated doubtless proves itself without further evidence; and if it appears upon its face to be a record of a court of general jurisdiction, the jurisdiction of the court over the cause and the parties is to be presumed unless disproved by extrinsic evidence or by the record itself. Knowles v. Gaslight & Coke Co., 19 Wall. 58. But Congress has not undertaken to prescribe in what manner the effect that such judgments have in the courts of the State in which they are rendered shall be ascertained, and has left that to be regulated by the general rules of pleading and evidence applicable to the subject.

Upon principle, therefore, and according to the great preponderance of authority, whenever it becomes necessary for a court of one State, in order to give full faith and credit to a judgment rendered in another State, to ascertain the effect which it has in that State, the law of that State must be proved, like any other matter of fact.

When exercising an original jurisdiction under the Constitution and laws of the United States, this court, as well as every other court of the national government, doubtless takes notice, without proof, of the laws of each of the United States.

But in this court, exercising an appellate jurisdiction, whatever was matter of law in the court appealed from is matter of law here, and whatever was matter of fact in the court appealed from is matter of fact here.

In the exercise of its general appellate jurisdiction from a lower court of the United States, this court takes judicial notice of the laws of every State of the Union, because those laws are known to the court below as laws alone, needing no averment or proof.

But on a writ of error to the highest court of a State, in which the revisory power of this court is limited to determining whether a


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