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UNITED STATES V. HUDSON, 11 U. S. 32 (1812)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Hudson, 11 U.S. 7 Cranch 32 32 (1812)

United States v. Hudson

11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 32


The courts of the United States have no common law jurisdiction in cases of libel against the government of the United States.

But they have the power to fine for contempts, to imprison for contumacy, and to enforce the observance of their orders.

Certain implied powers must necessarily result to our courts of justice from the nature of their institution. But jurisdiction of crimes against the state are not among those powers.

To fine for contempt, imprison for contumacy, enforce the observance of orders, &c., are powers which cannot be dispensed with in a court, because they are necessary to the exercise of all others.

This was a case certified from the Circuit Court for the District of Connecticut in which, upon argument of a general demurrer to an indictment for a libel on the President and Congress of the United States, contained in the Connecticut Currant, of the 7th of May, 1806, charging them with having in secret voted two millions of dollars as a present to Bonaparte for leave to make a treaty with Spain, the judges of that court were divided in opinion upon the question, whether the circuit court of the United States had a common law jurisdiction in cases of libel.

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