4 US 1 The State of New York v. The State of Connecticut

4 U.S. 1

4 Dall. 1

1 L.Ed. 715

The State of New York
The State of Connecticut et al.

August Term, 1799

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Bill in equity. 'The State of New York, one of the United States of America, by Josiah Ogden Hoffman, the attorney-general of the said state,' filed this bill in consequence of the rejection of the motion, to grant writs of certiorari, for the removal of Fowler et al. v. Lindsey et al. and Fowler et al. v. Miller (3 Dal. Rep. 411),1 from the Circuit Court of Connecticut into the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs in those suits were made defendants to the present bill; and the complainant, after setting forth the title of New York to the lands in question, prayed (inter alia) for an injunction against them. The notices to the defendants, that the injunction would be moved for, were delivered on the 25th and 26th of July; but, on the 6th of August, 2 Ingersoll, who appeared for the individuals, though not for the state, referred to the act of congress, which provides, that 'no writ of injunction shall be granted, in any case, without reasonable previous notice to the adverse party, or his attorney, of the time and place of moving for the same:' 2 vol. 228. s. 5. Swift's edit. And he contended, that reasonable notice had not been given in this case.


Hoffman, (the Attorney-General of New York) contended that the notice was reasonable in relation to its present object; though it might not be sufficient for requiring the defendant to put in an answer, or demurrer, to the bill. The injunction prayed for, is not a perpetual one, but only till answer, and further order of the Court. Nor ought the section of the act of congress to be extended by construction; for, a universal application of the rule, would be unreasonable, and, in many cases, enable the party to defeat the very purpose of an injunction. It is questionable, indeed, whether the section at all relates to a motion, either in the Supreme Court, or the Circuit Court, for an injunction; since its only object seems to have been, to vest in a single Judge the same power that the Courts previously possessed, to grant the writs of injunction and ne exeat. But, at all events, if the Court shall think notice of such a motion necessary, they will construe the shortest notice to be reasonable notice, for the purpose of preserving peace, and effectuating justice.


Ingersoll, in reply. With respect to the state of Connecticut, it is a fact, that since the decision on the motion for a certiorari, at the last term, there has not been a meeting of the legislature; so that it is impossible to ascertain what course she will adopt on the occasion: and with respect to the individual plaintiffs in the Circuit Court, it is a matter of great importance that a trial on their rights should not be suspended, by the interposition of a state, whose interests cannot be affected by any decision that may be given below. It is enough, however, that by the positive provisions of the act of congress, it is contemplated, that no injunction shall issue, in any case, unless satisfactory reasons are assigned; and that, therefore, reasonable notice of an application for the writ, must be given to the adverse party.


The opinion of the COURT was delivered by the Chief Justice.


ELLSWORTH, Chief Justice.


The prohibition contained in the statute, that writs of injunction shall not be granted, without reasonable notice to the adverse party, or his attorney, extends to injunctions granted by the Supreme Court, or the Circuit Court, as well to those that may be granted by a single Judge.


The design and effect, however, of injunctions, must render a shorter notice reasonable notice, in the case of an application to a Court, than would be so construed, in most cases of an application to a single Judge: and, until a general rule shall be settled, the particular circumstances of each case must also be regarded.

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Circumstanced as the present case is, the notice, which has been given, is, in the opinion of the Court, sufficient, as it respects the parties against whom an injunction is prayed.


In Fowler v. Lindsey, a certiorari was refused because the state was not a party to the record; in this case an injunction was denied, because she was not interested in the ejectments.


The term commenced on the 5th of August, but a quorum of the judges did not attend till the day following; and CUSHING and IREDELL, Justices, were prevented by indisposition from taking their seats on the Bench, during the whole term.