MEMPHIS V. CUMBERLAND TEL. & TEL. CO., 218 U. S. 624 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Memphis v. Cumberland Tel. & Tel. Co., 218 U.S. 624 (1910)

Memphis v. Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company

No. 42

Argued November 8, 9, 1910

Decided December 12, 1910

218 U.S. 624


The right of the circuit court to take jurisdiction of a case as one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States must distinctly appear in the allegations of the bill; but this Court may take jurisdiction of direct appeal from the circuit court under § 5 of the Court of Appeals Act if it properly appears that a right under the Constitution and laws of the United States was duly claimed during the case. Loeb v. Columbia Township, 179 U. S. 472.

While the opinion of the circuit court may not be examined to ascertain what should, under proper practice, appear in the pleadings or bill of exceptions, it may be looked to, when annexed and forming part of the record, to ascertain whether either party claimed, and was denied, a federal right.

Municipal legislation passed without authority of the state does not lay the foundation of federal jurisdiction, and statements in the bill to the effect that the ordinances complained of were unauthorized and illegal will be held to refer to the state, rather than to the federal, constitution, in the absence of distinct references to the latter.

Quaere whether a bill within the jurisdiction of the circuit court can be construed as charging that the action of a municipality was without authority from the state and also that such action denied plaintiff his constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Where diverse citizenship exists and the bill alleges, and the circuit

Page 218 U. S. 625

court holds, that the defendant municipality had no authority to pass the ordinance complained of, the case is not one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and, although the judge may have declared in his opinion that the ordinance violated complainant's federal rights, this Court has not jurisdiction on a direct appeal under § 5 of the Court of Appeals Act.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction of this Court of a direct appeal from the circuit court of the United States, are stated in the opinion.

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