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U.S. Supreme Court

Western Life Indemnity Co. v Illinois v. Rupp, 235 U.S. 261 (1914)

Western Life Indemnity Company v Illinois v. Rupp

No. 50

Submitted November 5, 1914

Decided November 30, 1914

235 U.S. 261


A state may prescribe that a voluntary special appearance in one of its courts, even for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction, shall be deemed a general appearance, without violating the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In the federal courts, a defendant may appear specially to insist upon the illegality of service, and, if overruled, does not waive his objections by answering to the merits, Davidson Marble Co. v. Gibson, 213 U. S. 10, but the states may, as Kentucky has, establish a different rule, and nothing in the Fourteenth Amendment prevents them from so doing.

The due process provision of the Fourteenth Amendment has regard not to matters of form, but to substance of right.

While there is a rule in Kentucky that appearance in. the appellate court operates as a submission to the jurisdiction so as to dispense with service of process, the rights of the defendant in a case where plaintiff appeals are safeguarded by his right to a cross-appeal on this or any other objection.

Page 235 U. S. 262

While a nonresident against whom a personal action is instituted in a state court without personal service within the jurisdiction may ignore the proceeding as wholly ineffective and set up its invalidity when an attempt is made to take his property thereunder, if he wishes to contest the validity of the proceeding in advance in the courts of the state, he must enter the courts subject to the rules as to submitting to the jurisdiction.

It is not unreasonable for a state to prescribe such rules of procedure in regard to special appearances in its courts as will prevent a defendant from attempting to obtain a binding adjudication on the merits in his favor through the exercise of the court's jurisdiction while depriving the plaintiff of the possibility of success by reserving an objection to the jurisdiction of the court.

Where, in a state court, the validity of an act of the legislature of another state is not in question, and the controversy turns merely upon its interpretation or construction, no question arises under the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution.

The Kentucky court, having recognized the existence, validity, and relevancy of a statute of Illinois prohibiting an insurance company from issuing a policy of insurance upon a life in which the beneficiary has no insurable interest, but having, in the absence of any decision of the courts of Illinois placing a different construction thereon, construed the statute as not having any extraterritorial effect or any application to business done in Kentucky, there was no refusal to give the Illinois statute the full faith and credit required by the federal Constitution.

If a party setting up a statute of one state in a court of another state intends to rely upon an authoritative judicial construction of the statute in the its origin, it is incumbent upon him to prove it as a matter of fact.

The rule that what is matter of fact in the state court is matter of fact in this Court upon review applies where foreign law is in question in the state court, as well as to any other issue of fact.

If the state court has not denied full faith and credit to the statute of another state, this Court has not jurisdiction to determine whether the interpretation given to such statute is or is not erroneous.

147 Ky. 489 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of a judgment based on substituted service and the validity under the Fourteenth Amendment of the practice of the Kentucky courts in regard to special appearances, and also questions

Page 235 U. S. 263

arising under the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution, are stated in the opinion.

Page 235 U. S. 267

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