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Murray v. Wilson Distilling Co., 213 U.S. 151 (1909)

Murray v. Wilson Distilling Company

No. 625

Argued February 26, March 1, 1909

Decided April 5, 1909

213 U.S. 151


Purchases made by state officers of supplies for business carried on by the state are made by the state, and suits by the vendors against the state officers carrying on or winding up the business are suits against the state and, under the Eleventh Amendment, beyond the jurisdiction of the federal courts, and so held as to suits against commissioners to wind up the State Liquor Dispensary of South Carolina

A bill in equity to compel specific performance of a contract between an individual and a state cannot, against the objection of the state, be maintained in the federal courts. Christian v. Atlantic & N.C. R., 133 U. S. 233.

A state statute will not, by strained implication, be construed as a divestiture of rights of property or as authorizing administration of the assets of a governmental agency without the presence of the state, and so held as to the statute of South Carolina providing for winding up the State Liquor Dispensary.

The consent of a state to be sued in its own courts by a creditor does not give that creditor the right to sue in a federal court. Chandler v. Dix, 194 U. S. 590.

Page 213 U. S. 152

Even though state legislation and decision as to the construction of state statutes may not be controlling upon this Court, yet they may be persuasive.

Although, by engaging in business, a state may not avoid a preexisting right of the federal government to tax that business, the state does not thereby lose the exemption from suit under the Eleventh Amendment. South Carolina v. United States, 199 U. S. 437, distinguished. The legal history of the constitutional provision and legislative enactments of South Carolina in regard to the State Liquor Dispensary reviewed.

161 F. 152 reversed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 213 U. S. 157

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