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Slaughterhouse Cases, 77 U.S. 10 Wall. 273 273 (1869)

Slaughterhouse Cases

77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 273


1. A writ of error has the effect to remove the record into the court granting the writ, and when the conditions prescribed in the 23d section of the Judiciary Act are complied with, the jurisdiction of the subordinate court is suspended until the cause is remanded from the appellate tribunal.

2. Neither appeals nor writs of error become a supersedeas and stay execution by virtue merely of process issued by this Court; but this effect is derived from the Judiciary Act on complying with its conditions.

3. When these conditions acre complied with, if the subordinate court proceeds thereafter to issue final process, it is competent for this Court, in the exercise of its appellate power, to correct the error by a supersedeas, and this may be done though the application for the supersedeas is made before the return day of the writ of error.

4. Where injunctions had been granted in the District Court of the State of Louisiana, and suspensive appeals had been taken to the supreme court of the state, where the decrees granting the injunctions had been affirmed, and a writ of error under the 25th section of the Judiciary Act sued out to that judgment of affirmance, the writ of error and bond, though filed within ten days of the affirmance, did not authorize this Court to enjoin or supersede the action of the district court in giving effect to the said injunctions subsequent to the issuing of the writ of error. The supersedeas of the act operated alone upon the supreme court of the state to which the writ of error is directed under the said 25th section.

5. The appeals from the district to the supreme court of the state operated as a stay of execution, and suspended all jurisdiction to proceed further until the cause was remanded. But when the Supreme Court rendered

Page 77 U. S. 274

its final judgment and perpetuated the injunction, whatever conditions were annexed to the appeal were abrogated, as the appeal was then fully executed.

6. A writ of error to a state court cannot have any greater effect than if the judgment or decree had been rendered or passed in a circuit court; and neither an injunction nor a decree dissolving an injunction passed in a circuit court is reversed or nullified by an appeal or writ of error before the cause is heard in this Court.

These were motions made at the close of this term (December, 1869), in behalf of several plaintiffs in error, to enforce the supersedeas on writs of error which had issued in five several cases to the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana, returnable to the term now coming (December, 1870) of this Court.

The case was this:

By the 25th section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, this Court has power, on writ of error, to reexamine a final judgment or decree in any suit in the highest court of law or equity of a state in which a decision in the suit could be had,

"where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under, any state, on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, and the decision is in favor of such their validity."

By this same section the writ of error to such supreme court of the state "shall have the same effect as if the judgment or decree complained of had been rendered or passed by a circuit court."

By a prior section of the act (the 22d) it is enacted that

"final judgments and decrees in civil actions and suits in equity in circuit courts . . . may be reexamined, and reversed or affirmed in the Supreme Court, a citation to the adverse party being in such case signed by a judge of such circuit court, or justice of the supreme court, and the adverse party having at least thirty days' notice."

The same section proceeds:

"And writs of error shall not be brought but within five years after rendering or passing the judgment or decree complained of. And every justice or judge signing a citation on any writ

Page 77 U. S. 275

of error, shall take good and sufficient security that the plaintiff in error shall prosecute his writ to effect,"


A following section (the 23d), declaring the effect of a writ of error to a judgment in a circuit court, says:

"That a writ of error, as aforesaid, shall be a supersedeas and stay execution in cases only where the writ is served, by a copy thereof being lodged for the adverse party in the clerk's office, within ten days after rendering the judgment or passing the decree complained of. Until the expiration of which term of ten days execution shall not issue in any case where a writ of error may be a supersedeas."

The same act of 1789 provides by its fourteenth section that this Court

"shall have power to issue writs of scire facias, habeas corpus, and all other writs not specially provided for by statutes, which may be necessary for the exercise of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the principles and usages of law."

An Act, however, of March 2, 1793, entitled "An act "in addition" to the act" above quoted, of 1789, thus declares:

"Writs of ne exeat and injunction may be granted by any judge of the supreme court in cases where they might be granted by the supreme or a circuit court; but no writ of ne exeat shall be granted unless a suit in equity be commenced and satisfactory proof made that the defendant designs quickly to depart from the United States; nor shall a writ of injunction be granted to stay proceedings in any court of a state."

These statutory enactments being in force, the Legislature of Louisiana, A.D. 1869, in professed exercise of its power to protect the health, promote the cleanliness, and regulate the police of the City of New Orleans, passed an act by which it ordered all animals imported for consumption in the city to be landed at certain places, and all intended for food to be slaughtered there, and for the purpose of executing this law conferred on seventeen persons, as a company, the exclusive right to maintain landings for cattle and to erect slaughterhouses &c., chartering them under the name of

Page 77 U. S. 276

The Crescent City Livestock Landing and Slaughterhouse Company.

The plaintiffs in error, being different individuals and companies, undertaking or continuing to maintain other landings and slaughtering houses, in opposition to those of the chartered company, that company filed petitions in certain of the district courts of the state asserting their right to the monopoly conferred by the act, and obtained preliminary injunctions against these different parties and associations prohibiting the use of the landings and the exercise of the business of slaughtering as infringing upon the exclusive right which the new company claimed under the act. These injunctions, upon the hearing of exceptions and answers, were perpetuated.

In other of the district courts of the state, those who asserted that the act was a violation of their rights also filed petitions against the company, upon which preliminary injunctions were perpetuated in favor of the petitioners.

The ground maintained against the act was, that it violated the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which declares that

"No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

These conflicting decrees in the district courts were all taken by what are known in Louisiana as "suspensive appeals" to the supreme court of the state, where judgment in all was given in favor of the new company, which asserted the validity of the act. And to these judgments of the supreme court of the state writs of error were taken from this Court under the already-mentioned 25th section of the Judiciary Act; the writs of error, service citation, bond &c., being all regularly taken and made, and filed within the ten days prescribed by the 23d section, which prevents the writ of error from operating as a supersedeas and stay of execution unless these be taken within that time.

Page 77 U. S. 277

Before the judgments here complained of were rendered in the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the legislature of that state created a new court, known as the Eighth District Court of New Orleans, giving to it exclusive original jurisdiction in cases of injunction, and authorizing the removal of such cases into it from other courts.

The parties denying the rights of the new company to the exclusive privileges granted to it by the act of 1869, being, after the writ of error from this Court to the supreme court of the state, about to proceed to the landing and killing of cattle &c., in disregard of the injunction, which, as they asserted, was superseded by the writ of error taken from this Court, the Attorney General of Louisiana, now intervening on what till now had been a litigation between citizens in a question of private right, moved in this new court in one of the cases here the subject of writ of error to enforce the judgment rendered on appeal to the supreme court of the state making perpetual the injunction originally granted by the court from which the cause was removed; but the new court refused to grant this motion on the ground that the writ of error sued out to this Court (the Supreme Court of the United States) operated as a supersedeas under the 23d section of the Judiciary Act. But it did enforce the preliminary injunctions granted by those district courts which thought that injunctions ought to be granted; and, in addition, upon a petition in proceedings of an original character, instituted by the new corporation, and afterwards adopted by the attorney general as representing the state, to which proceedings none of the plaintiffs in error in these present cases were parties, but which were directed against the corporation of New Orleans and the board of metropolitan police there, the new court ordered the city and the board of police to prevent all persons except the new company from landing or slaughtering cattle or selling animal meat for food.

In this state of things the plaintiffs in error in the five several cases (here designated generally and by their popular name as "The Slaughterhouse Cases," but of which

Page 77 U. S. 278

the specific names are also given at the beginning of the case, on p. <|77 U.S. 273|>273) filed petitions in this Court setting forth the general history of things below, the fact that they had obtained writs of error &c., within ten days, so as to remove the causes to this Court and to be a supersedeas to any execution; that after this had been done the defendants in error, to defeat the operation of the writs and in disobedience of the supersedeas, applied to the Eighth District Court for orders of the sort already described to prevent all persons (except the defendants) from landing, keeping, or slaughtering any cattle; that the orders were granted as asked for, and had been executed so as to prevent the plaintiffs in error from having any benefit of the supersedeas to which they were entitled, and so far as the orders were on the original proceedings had in effect turned the corporation of New Orleans and the metropolitan board of police into sheriffs to enforce the judgments of courts which had been superseded by the writs of error. All of which would appear, the petitioners asserted, from the record of the proceedings in the Eighth District Court, and the affidavits on file with the same, submitted with the petition.

The motion in this Court therefore was for an order of injunction and supersedeas to command the defendants in error and the City of New Orleans, the metropolitan board of police, in no manner to hinder or to prevent the plaintiffs in error from landing or slaughtering animals, or of having, keeping, or establishing landings or slaughterhouses, or for vending animal food in the markets of New Orleans, as fully as they could before the passage of the act of 1869, incorporating the defendants, or as the defendants were allowed to do by the said act, and that a suitable order might be made to the said Eighth District Court to prohibit it from further proceeding in the premises.

Page 77 U. S. 284

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