Section 1: Full Faith and Credit
Sources and Effect of this Provision Private International Law The historical background of this section is furnished by that branch of private law which is variously termed "private international law," "conflict of laws," and "comity." This comprises a body of rules, based largely on the writings of jurists and judicial decisions, in accordance with which the courts of one country, or "jurisdiction," will ordinarily, in the absence of a local policy to the contrary, extend recognition and enforcement to rights claimed by individuals by virtue of the laws or judicial decisions of another country or "jurisdiction." Most frequently applied examples of these rules include the following: the rule that a marriage which is good in the country where performed (lex loci) is good elsewhere; the rule that contracts are to be interpreted in accordance with the laws of the country where entered into (lex loci contractus) unless the parties clearly intended otherwise; the rule that immovables may be disposed of only in accordance with the law of the country where situated (lex rei sitae);
the converse rule that chattels adhere to the person of their owner and hence are disposable by him, even when located elsewhere, in accordance with the law of his domicile (lex domicilii); the rule that regardless of where the cause arose, the courts of any country where personal service of the defendant can be effected will take jurisdiction of certain types of personal actions, hence termed "transitory," and accord such remedy as the lex fori affords. Still other rules, of first importance in the present connection, determine the recognition which the judgments of the courts of one country shall receive from those of another country.
So even had the States of the Union remained in a mutual relationship of entire independence, private claims originating in one often would have been assured recognition and enforcement in the others. The Framers felt, however, that the rules of private international law should not be left among the States altogether on a basis of comity and hence subject always to the overruling local policy of the lex fori but ought to be in some measure at least placed on the higher plane of constitutional obligation. In fulfillment of this intent the section now under consideration was inserted, and Congress was empowered to enact supplementary and enforcing legislation.
Judgments: Effect to Be Given in Forum State
Article IV, § 1, has had its principal operation in relation to judgments. Embraced within the relevant discussions are two principal classes of judgments. First, those in which the judgment involved was offered as a basis of proceedings for its own enforcement outside the State where rendered, as for example, when an action for debt is brought in the courts of State B on a judgment for money damages rendered in State A; second, those in which the judgment involved was offered, in conformance with the principle of res judicata, in defense in a new or collateral proceeding growing out of the same facts as the original suit, as for example, when a decree of divorce granted in State A is offered as barring a suit for divorce by the other party to the marriage in the courts of State B.
The English courts and the different state courts in the United States, while recognizing "foreign judgments in personam" which were reducible to money terms as affording a basis for actions in debt, originally accorded them generally only the status of prima facie evidence in support thereof, so that the merits of the original controversy could always be opened. When offered in defense, on the other hand, "foreign judgments in personam" were regarded as conclusive upon everybody on the theory that, as stated by Chief Justice Marshall, "it is a proceeding in rem, to which all the world are parties." The pioneer case was Mills v. Duryee, decided in 1813. In an action brought in the circuit court of the District of Columbia, the equivalent of a state court for this purpose, on a judgment from a New York court, the defendant endeavored to reopen the whole question of the merits of the original case by a plea of "nil debet." It was answered in the words of the first implementing statute of 1790 that such records and proceedings were entitled in each State to the same faith and credit as in the State of origin, and that inasmuch as they were records of a court in the State of origin, and so conclusive of the merits of the case there, they were equally so in the forum State. The Court adopted the latter view, saying that it had not been the intention of the Constitution merely to reenact the common law-that is, the principles of private international law-with regard to the reception of foreign judgments, but to amplify and fortify these. And in Hampton v. McConnell, some years later, Chief Justice Marshall went even further, using language which seems to show that he regarded the judgment of a state court as constitutionally entitled to be accorded in the courts of sister States not simply the faith and credit on conclusive evidence but the validity of final judgment.
When, however, the next important case arose, the Court had come under new influences. This was McElmoyle v. Cohen, in which the issue was whether a statute of limitations of the State of Georgia, which applied only to judgments obtained in courts other than those of Georgia, could constitutionally bar an action in Georgia on a judgment rendered by a court of record of South Carolina. Declining to follow Marshall's lead in Hampton v. McConnell, the Court held that the Constitution was not intended "materially to interfere with the essential attributes of the lex fori," that the act of Congress only established a rule of evidence, of conclusive evidence to be sure, but still of evidence only; and that it was necessary, in order to carry into effect in a State the judgment of a court of a sister State, to institute a fresh action in the court of the former, in strict compliance with its laws; and that, consequently, when remedies were sought in support of the rights accruing in another jurisdiction, they were governed by the lex fori. In accord with this holding, it has been further held that foreign judgments enjoy, not the right of priority or privilege or lien which they have in the State where they are pronounced but only that which the lex fori gives them by its own laws, in their character of foreign judgments. A judgment of a state court, in a cause within its jurisdiction, and against a defendant lawfully summoned, or against lawfully attached property of an absent defendant, is entitled to as much force and effect against the person summoned or the property attached, when the question is presented for decision in a court in another State, as it has in the State in which it was rendered.
A judgment enforceable in the State where rendered must be given effect in another State, notwithstanding that the modes of procedure to enforce its collection may not be the same in both States. If the initial court acquired jurisdiction, its judgment is entitled to full faith and credit elsewhere even though the former, by reason of the departure of the defendant with all his property, after having been served, has lost its capacity to enforce it by execution in the State of origin. "A cause of action on a judgment is different from that upon which the judgment was entered. In a suit upon a money judgment for a civil cause of action, the validity of the claim upon which it was founded is not open to inquiry, whatever its genesis. Regardless of the nature of the right which gave rise to it, the judgment is an obligation to pay money in the nature of a debt upon a specialty. Recovery upon it can be resisted only on the grounds that the court which rendered it was without jurisdiction, . . . or that it has ceased to be obligatory because of payment or other discharge . . . or that it is a cause of action for which the State of the forum has not provided a court."
On the other hand, the clause is not violated when a judgment is disregarded because it is not conclusive of the issues before a court of the forum. Conversely, no greater effect can be given than is given in the State where rendered. Thus, an interlocutory judgment may not be given the effect of a final judgment. Likewise, when a federal court does not attempt to foreclose the state court from hearing all matters of personal defense which landowners might plead, a state court may refuse to accept the former's judgment as determinative of the landowners' liabilities. Similarly, though a confession of judgment upon a note, with a warrant of attorney annexed, in favor of the holder, is in conformity with a state law and usage as declared by the highest court of the State in which the judgment is rendered, the judgement may be collaterally impeached upon the ground that the party in whose behalf it was rendered was not in fact the holder. But a consent decree, which under the law of the State has the same force and effect as a decree in invitum, must be given the same effect in the courts of another State.
Subsequent to its departure from Hampton v. McConnell, the Court does not appear to have formulated, by way of substitution, any clear-cut principles for disposing of the contention that a State need not provide a forum for a particular type of judgment of a sister State. Thus, in one case it held that a New York statute forbidding foreign corporations doing a domestic business to sue on causes originating outside the State was constitutionally applicable to prevent such a corporation from suing on a judgment obtained in a sister State. But in a later case it ruled that a Mississippi statute forbidding contracts in cotton futures could not validly close the courts of the State to an action on a judgment obtained in a sister State on such a contract, although the contract in question had been entered into in the forum State and between its citizens. Following the later rather than the earlier precedent, subsequent cases have held: (1) that a State may adopt such system of courts and form of remedy as it sees fit but cannot, under the guise of merely affecting the remedy, deny enforcement of claims otherwise within the protection of the Full Faith and Credit Clause when its courts have general jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties; (2) that, accordingly, a forum State, which has a shorter period of limitations than the State in which a judgment was granted and later revived, erred in concluding that, whatever the effect of the revivor under the law of the State of origin, it could refuse enforcement of the revived judgment; (3) that the courts of one State have no jurisdiction to enjoin the enforcement of judgments at law obtained in another State, when the same reasons assigned for granting the restraining order were passed upon on a motion for new trial in the action at law and the motion denied; (4) that the constitutional mandate requires credit to be given to a money judgment rendered in a civil cause of action in another State, even though the forum State would have been under no duty to entertain the suit on which the judgment was founded, inasmuch as a State cannot, by the adoption of a particular rule of liability or of procedure, exclude from its courts a suit on a judgment; and (5) that, similarly, tort claimants in State A, who obtain a judgment against a foreign insurance company, notwithstanding that, prior to judgment, domiciliary State B appointed a liquidator for the company, vested company assets in him, and ordered suits against the company stayed, are entitled to have such judgment recognized in State B for purposes of determining the amount of the claim, although not for determination of what priority, if any, their claim should have.
Jurisdiction: A Prerequisite to Enforcement of Judgments
The jurisdictional question arises both in connection with judgments in personam against nonresident defendants to whom it is alleged personal service was not obtained in the State originating the judgment and in relation to judgments in rem against property or a status alleged not to have been within the jurisdiction of the court which handed down the original decree. Records and proceedings of courts wanting jurisdiction are not entitled to credit.
Judgments in Personam.-When the subject matter of a suit is merely the defendant's liability, it is necessary that it should appear from the record that the defendant has been brought within the jurisdiction of the court by personal service of process, or by his voluntary appearance, or that he had in some manner authorized the proceeding. Thus, when a state court endeavored to acquire jurisdiction of a nonresident defendant by an attachment of his property within the State and constructive notice to him, its judgment was defective for want of jurisdiction and hence could not afford the basis of an action against the defendant in the court of another State, although it bound him so far as the property attached by virtue of the inherent right of a State to assist its own citizens in obtaining satisfaction of their just claims.
The fact that a nonresident defendant was only temporarily in the State when he was served in the original action does not vitiate the judgment thus obtained and later relied upon as the basis of an action in his home State. Also a judgment rendered in the State of his domicile against a defendant who, pursuant to the statute thereof providing for the service of process on absent defendants, was personally served in another State is entitled to full faith and credit. When the matter of fact or law on which jurisdiction depends was not litigated in the original suit, it is a matter to be adjudicated in the suit founded upon the judgment.
Inasmuch as the principle of res judicata applies only to proceedings between the same parties and privies, the plea by defendant in an action based on a judgment that he was not party or privy to the original action raises the question of jurisdiction; while a judgment against a corporation in one State may validly bind a stockholder in another State to the extent of the par value of his holdings, an administrator acting under a grant of administration in one State stands in no sort of relation of privity to an administrator of the same estate in another State. But where a judgment of dismissal was entered in a federal court in an action against one of two joint tortfeasors, in a State in which such a judgment would constitute an estoppel in another action in the same State against the other tortfeasor, such judgment is not entitled to full faith and credit in an action brought against the tortfeasor in another State.
Service on Foreign Corporations.-In 1856, the Court decided Lafayette Ins. Co. v. French, a pioneer case in its general class. Here it was held that "where a corporation chartered by the State of Indiana was allowed by a law of Ohio to transact business in the latter State upon the condition that service of process upon the agent of the corporation should be considered as service upon the corporation itself, a judgment obtained against the corporation by means of such process" ought to receive in Indiana the same faith and credit as it was entitled to in Ohio. Later cases establish under both the Fourteenth Amendment and article IV, § 1, that the cause of action must have arisen within the State obtaining service in this way, that service on an officer of a corporation, not its resident agent and not present in the State in an official capacity, will not confer jurisdiction over the corporation, that the question whether the corporation was actually "doing business" in the State may be raised. On the other hand, the fact that the business was interstate is no objection.
Service on Nonresident Motor Vehicle Owners.-By analogy to the above cases, it has been held that a State may require nonresident owners of motor vehicles to designate an official within the State as an agent upon whom process may be served in any legal proceedings growing out of their operation of a motor vehicle within the State. While these cases arose under the Fourteenth Amendment alone, unquestionably a judgment validly obtained upon this species of service could be enforced upon the owner of a car through the courts of his home State.
Judgments in Rem.-In sustaining the challenge to jurisdiction in cases involving judgments in personam, the Court in the main was making only a somewhat more extended application of recognized principles. In order to sustain the same kind of challenge in cases involving judgments in rem it has had to make law outright. The leading case is Thompson v. Whitman. Thompson, sheriff of Monmouth County, New Jersey, acting under a New Jersey statute, had seized a sloop belonging to Whitman and by a proceeding in rem had obtained its condemnation and forfeiture in a local court. Later, Whitman, a citizen of New York, brought an action for trespass against Thompson in the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, and Thompson answered by producing a record of the proceedings before the New Jersey tribunal. Whitman thereupon set up the contention that the New Jersey court had acted without jurisdiction, inasmuch as the sloop which was the subject matter of the proceedings had been seized outside the county to which, by the statute under which it had acted, its jurisdiction was confined.
As previously explained, the plea of lack of privity cannot be set up in defense in a sister State against a judgment in rem. In a proceeding in rem, however, the presence of the res within the court's jurisdiction is a prerequisite, and this, it was urged, had not been the case in Thompson v. Whitman. Could, then, the Court consider this challenge with respect to a judgment which was offered, not as the basis for an action for enforcement through the courts of a sister State but merely as a defense in a collateral action? As the law stood in 1873, it apparently could not. All difficulties, nevertheless, to its consideration of the challenge to jurisdiction in the case were brushed aside by the Court. Whenever, it said, the record of a judgment rendered in a state court is offered "in evidence" by either of the parties to an action in another State, it may be contradicted as to the facts necessary to sustain the former court's jurisdiction; "and if it be shown that such facts did not exist, the record will be a nullity, notwithstanding the claim that they did exist."
Divorce Decrees: Domicile as the Jurisdictional Prerequisite
This, however, was only the beginning of the Court's law-making in cases in rem. The most important class of such cases is that in which the respondent to a suit for divorce offers in defense an earlier decree from the courts of a sister State. By the almost universally accepted view prior to 1906, a proceeding in divorce was one against the marriage status, i. e., in rem, and hence might be validly brought by either party in any State where he or she was bona fide domiciled; and, conversely, when the plaintiff did not have a bona fide domicile in the State, a court could not render a decree binding in other States even if the nonresident defendant entered a personal appearance.
Divorce Suit: In Rem or in Personam; Judicial Indecision.-In 1906, however, by a vote of five to four, the Court departed from its earlier ruling, rendered five years previously in Atherton v. Atherton, and in Haddock v. Haddock, it announced that a divorce proceeding might be viewed as one in personam. In the former it was held, in the latter denied, that a divorce granted a husband without personal service upon the wife, who at the time was residing in another State, was entitled to recognition under the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the acts of Congress; the difference between the cases consisted solely in the fact that in the Atherton case the husband had driven the wife from their joint home by his conduct, while in the Haddock case he had deserted her. The court which granted the divorce in Atherton v. Atherton was held to have had jurisdiction of the marriage status, with the result that the proceeding was one in rem and hence required only service by publication upon the respondent. Haddock's suit, on the contrary, was held to be as to the wife in personam and so to require personal service upon her or her voluntary appearance, neither of which had been had; although, notwithstanding this, the decree in the latter case was held to be valid in the State where obtained because of the State's inherent power to determine the status of its own citizens. The upshot was a situation in which a man and a woman, when both were in Connecticut, were divorced; when both were in New York, were married; and when the one was in Connecticut and the other in New York, the former was divorced and the latter married. In Atherton v. Atherton the Court had earlier acknowledged that "a husband without a wife, or a wife without a husband, is unknown to the law."
The practical difficulties and distresses likely to result from such anomalies were pointed out by critics of the decision at the time. In point of fact, they have been largely avoided, because most of the state courts have continued to give judicial recognition and full faith and credit to one another's divorce proceedings on the basis of the older idea that a divorce proceeding is one in rem, and that if the applicant is bona fide domiciled in the State the court has jurisdiction in this respect. Moreover, until the second of the Williams v. North Carolina cases was decided in 1945, there had not been manifested the slightest disposition to challenge judicially the power of the States to determine what shall constitute domicile for divorce purposes. Shortly prior thereto, the Court in Davis v. Davis rejected contentions adverse to the validity of a Virginia decree of which enforcement was sought in the District of Columbia. In this case, a husband, after having obtained in the District a decree of separation subject to payment of alimony, established years later a residence in Virginia and sued there for a divorce. Personally served in the District, where she continued to reside, the wife filed a plea denying that her husband was a resident of Virginia and averred that he was guilty of a fraud on the court in seeking to establish a residence for purposes of jurisdiction. In ruling that the Virginia decree, granting to the husband an absolute divorce minus any alimony payment, was enforceable in the District, the Court stated that in view of the wife's failure, while in Virginia litigating her husband's status to sue, to answer the husband's charges of willful desertion, it would be unreasonable to hold that the husband's domicile in Virginia was not sufficient to entitle him to a divorce effective in the District. The finding of the Virginia court on domicile and jurisdiction was declared to bind the wife. Davis v. Davis is distinguishable from the Williams v. North Carolina decisions in that in the former determination of the jurisdictional prerequisite of domicile was made in a contested proceeding while in the Williams cases it was not.
Williams I and Williams II.-In the Williams I and Williams II cases, the husband of one marriage and the wife of another left North Carolina, obtained six-week divorce decrees in Nevada, married there, and resumed their residence in North Carolina where both previously had been married and domiciled. Prosecuted for bigamy, the defendants relied upon their Nevada decrees and won the preliminary round of this litigation, that is, in Williams I, when a majority of the Justices, overruling Haddock v. Haddock, declaring that in this case, the Court must assume that the petitioners for divorce had a bona fide domicile in Nevada and not that their Nevada domicile was a sham. "[E]ach State, by virtue of its command over the domiciliaries and its large interest in the institution of marriage, can alter within its own borders the marriage status of the spouse domiciled there, even though the other spouse is absent. There is no constitutional barrier if the form and nature of substituted service meet the requirements of due process." Accordingly, a decree granted by Nevada to one, who, it is assumed, is at the time bona fide domiciled therein, is binding upon the courts of other States, including North Carolina in which the marriage was performed and where the other party to the marriage is still domiciled when the divorce was decreed. In view of its assumptions, which it justified on the basis of an inadequate record, the Court did not here pass upon the question whether North Carolina had the power to refuse full faith and credit to a Nevada decree because it was based on residence rather than domicile or because, contrary to the findings of the Nevada court, North Carolina found that no bona fide domicile had been acquired in Nevada.
Presaging what ruling the Court would make when it did get around to passing upon the latter question, Justice Jackson, dissenting in Williams I, protested that "this decision repeals the divorce laws of all the States and substitutes the law of Nevada as to all marriages one of the parties to which can afford a short trip there.... While a State can no doubt set up its own standards of domicile as to its internal concerns, I do not think it can require us to accept and in the name of the Constitution impose them on other States.... The effect of the Court's decision today-that we must give extra-territorial effect to any judgment that a state honors for its own purposes-is to deprive this Court of control over the operation of the full faith and credit and the due process clauses of the Federal Constitution in cases of contested jurisdiction and to vest it in the first State to pass on the facts necessary to jurisdiction."
Notwithstanding that one of the deserted spouses had died since the initial trial and that another had remarried, North Carolina, without calling into question the status of the latter marriage, began a new prosecution for bigamy; when the defendants appealed the conviction resulting therefrom, the Supreme Court, in Williams II, sustained the adjudication of guilt as not denying full faith and credit to the Nevada divorce decree. Reiterating the doctrine that jurisdiction to grant divorce is founded on domicile, a majority of the Court held that a decree of divorce rendered in one State may be collaterally impeached in another by proof that the court which rendered the decree lacked jurisdiction (the parties not having been domiciled therein), even though the record of proceedings in that court purports to show jurisdiction.
Cases Following Williams II.-Fears registered by the dissenters in the second Williams case that the stability of all divorces might be undermined thereby and that thereafter the court of each forum State, by its own independent determination of domicile, might refuse recognition of foreign decrees were temporarily set at rest by the holding in Sherrer v. Sherrer, wherein Massachusetts, a State of domiciliary origin, was required to accord full faith and credit to a 90-day Florida decree which had been contested by the husband. The latter, upon receiving notice by mail, retained Florida counsel who entered a general appearance and denied all allegations in the complaint, including the wife's residence. At the hearing, the husband, though present in person and by counsel, did not offer evidence in rebuttal of the wife's proof of her Florida residence, and when the Florida court ruled that she was a bona fide resident, the husband did not appeal. Inasmuch as the findings of the requisite jurisdictional facts, unlike those in the second Williams case, were made in proceedings in which the defendant appeared and participated, the requirements of full faith and credit were held to bar him from collaterally attacking such findings in a suit instituted by him in his home State of Massachusetts, particularly in the absence of proof that the divorce decree was subject to such collateral attack in a Florida court. Having failed to take advantage of the opportunities afforded him by his appearance in the Florida proceeding, the husband was thereafter precluded from relitigating in another State the issue of his wife's domicile already passed upon by the Florida court.
In Coe v. Coe, embracing a similar set of facts, the Court applied like reasoning to reach a similar result. Massachusetts again was compelled to recognize the validity of a six-week Nevada decree obtained by a husband who had left Massachusetts after a court of that State had refused him a divorce and had granted his wife separate support. In the Nevada proceeding, the wife appeared personally and by counsel filed a cross-complaint for divorce, admitted the husband's residence, and participated personally in the proceedings. After finding that it had jurisdiction of the plaintiff, defendant, and the subject matter involved, the Nevada court granted the wife a divorce, which was valid, final, and not subject to collateral attack under Nevada law. The husband married again, and on his return to Massachusetts, his ex-wife petitioned the Massachusetts court to adjudge him in contempt for failing to make payments for her separate support under the earlier Massachusetts decree. Inasmuch as there was no intimation that under Massachusetts law a decree of separate support would survive a divorce, recognition of the Nevada decree as valid accordingly necessitated a rejection of the ex-wife's contention.
Appearing to review Williams II, and significant for the social consequences produced by the result decreed therein, is the case of Rice v. Rice. To determine the widowhood status of the party litigants in relation to inheritance of property of a husband who had deserted his first wife in Connecticut, had obtained an ex parte divorce in Nevada, and after remarriage, had died without ever returning to Connecticut, the first wife, joining the second wife and the administrator of his estate as defendants, petitioned a Connecticut court for a declaratory judgment. After having placed upon the first wife the burden of proving that the decedent had not acquired a bona fide domicile in Nevada, and after giving proper weight to the claims of power by the Nevada court, the Connecticut court concluded that the evidence sustained the contentions of the first wife, and in so doing, it was upheld by the Supreme Court. The cases of Sherrer v. Sherrer, and Coe v. Coe, previously discussed, were declared not to be in point, inasmuch as no personal service was made upon the first wife, nor did she in any way participate in the Nevada proceedings. She was not, therefore, precluded from challenging the findings of the Nevada court that the decedent was, at the time of the divorce, domiciled in that State.
Claims for Alimony or Property in Forum State.-In Esenwein v. Commonwealth, decided on the same day as the second Williams case, the Supreme Court also sustained a Pennsylvania court in its refusal to recognize an ex parte Nevada decree on the ground that the husband who obtained it never acquired a bona fide domicile in the latter State. In this instance, the husband and wife had separated in Pennsylvania, where the wife was granted a support order; after two unsuccessful attempts to win a divorce in that State, the husband departed for Nevada. Upon the receipt of a Nevada decree, the husband thereafter established a residence in Ohio and filed an action in Pennsylvania for total relief from the support order. In a concurring opinion, in which he was joined by Justices Black and Rutledge, Justice Douglas stressed the "basic difference between the problem of marital capacity and the problem of support," and stated that it was "not apparent that the spouse who obtained the decree can defeat an action for maintenance or support in another State by showing that he was domiciled in the State which awarded him the divorce decree," unless the other spouse appeared or was personally served. "The State where the deserted wife is domiciled has a concern in the welfare of the family deserted by the head of the household. If he is required to support his former wife, he is not made a bigamist and the offspring of his second marriage are not bastardized." Or, as succinctly stated by Justice Rutledge, "the jurisdictional foundation for a decree in one State capable of foreclosing an action for maintenance or support in another may be different from that required to alter the marital status with extraterritorial effect."
Three years later, but on this occasion as spokesman for a majority of the Court, Justice Douglas reiterated these views in the case of Estin v. Estin. Even though it acknowledged the validity of an ex parte Nevada decree obtained by a husband, New York was held not to have denied full faith and credit to the decree when, subsequently thereto, it granted the wife a judgment for arrears in alimony founded upon a decree of separation previously awarded to her when both she and her husband after he had resided there a year and upon constructive notice to the wife in New York who entered no appearance, was held to be effective only to change the marital status of both parties in all States of the Union but ineffective on the issue of alimony. Divorce, in other words, was viewed as being divisible; Nevada, in the absence of acquiring jurisdiction over the wife, was held incapable of adjudicating the rights of the wife in the prior New York judgment awarding her alimony. Accordingly, the Nevada decree could not prevent New York from applying its own rule of law which, unlike that of Pennsylvania, does permit a support order to survive a divorce decree.
Such a result was justified as accommodating the interests of both New York and Nevada in the broken marriage by restricting each State to matters of her dominant concern, the concern of New York being that of protecting the abandoned wife against impoverishment. In Simons v. Miami National Bank, the Court held that a dower right in the deceased husband's estate is extinguished even though a divorce decree was obtained in a proceeding in which the nonresident wife was served by publication only and did not make a personal appearance. The Court found the principle of Estin v. Estin was not applicable. In Simons, the Court rejected the contention that the forum court, in giving recognition to the foreign court's separation decree providing for maintenance and support, has to allow for dower rights in the deceased husband's estate in the forum State. Full faith and credit is not denied to a sister State's separation decree, including an award of monthly alimony, where nothing in the foreign State's separation decree could be construed as creating or preserving any interest in the nature of or in lieu of dower in any property of the decedent, wherever located and where the law of the forum State did not treat such a decree as having such effect nor indicate such an effect irrespective of the existence of the foreign State's decree.
Decrees Awarding Alimony, Custody of Children.-Resulting as a by-product of divorce litigation are decrees for the payment of alimony, judgments for accrued and unpaid installments of alimony, and judicial awards of the custody of children, all of which necessitate application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause when extrastate enforcement is sought for them. Thus, a judgment in State A for alimony in arrears and payable under a prior judgment of separation which is not by its terms conditional nor subject by the law of State A to modification or recall, and on which execution was directed to issue, is entitled to recognition in the forum State. Although an obligation for accrued alimony could have been modified or set aside in State A prior to its merger in the judgment, such a judgment, by the law of State A, is not lacking in finality. As to the finality of alimony decrees in general, the Court had previously ruled that where such a decree is rendered, payable in future installments, the right to such installments becomes absolute and vested on becoming due, provided no modification of the decree has been made prior to the maturity of the installments. However, a judicial order requiring the payment of arrearages in alimony, which exceeded the alimony previously decreed, is invalid for want of due process, the respondent having been given no opportunity to contest it. "A judgment obtained in violation of procedural due process," said Chief Justice Stone, "is not entitled to full faith and credit when sued upon in another jurisdiction."
An example of a custody case was one involving a Florida divorce decree which was granted ex parte to a wife who had left her husband in New York, where he was served by publication. The decree carried with it an award of the exclusive custody of the child, whom the day before the husband had secretly seized and brought back to New York. The Court ruled that the decree was adequately honored by a New York court when, in habeas corpus proceedings, it gave the father rights of visitation and custody of the child during stated periods and exacted a surety bond of the wife conditioned on her delivery of the child to the father at the proper times, it having not been "shown that the New York court in modifying the Florida decree exceeded the limits permitted under Florida laws. There is therefore a failure of proof that the Florida decree received less credit in New York than it had in Florida."
Answering a question left open in the preceding holding as to the binding effect of the ex parte award, the Court more recently acknowledged that in a proceeding challenging a mother's right to retain custody of her children, a State is not required to give effect to the decree of another State's court, which never acquired personal jurisdiction over the mother of her children, and which awarded custody to the father as the result of an ex parte divorce action instituted by him. In Kovacs v. Brewer, however, the Court indicated that a finding of changed circumstances rendering observance of an absentee foreign custody decree inimical to the best interests of the child is essential to sustain the validity of the forum court's refusal to enforce a foreign decree, rendered with jurisdiction over all the parties but the child, and revising an initial decree by transferring custody from the paternal grandfather to the mother. However, when, as is true in Virginia, agreements by parents as to shared custody of a child do not bind the State's courts, the dismissal by a Virginia court of a habeas corpus petition instituted by a father to obtain custody was not res judicata in that State; therefore, even if the Full Faith and Credit Clause were applicable to child custody decrees, it would not require a South Carolina court, in a custody suit instituted by the wife, to recognize a court order not binding in Virginia.
Status of the Law.-The doctrine of divisible divorce, as developed by Justice Douglas in Estin v. Estin, may have become the prevailing standard for determining the enforceability of foreign divorce decrees. If such be the case, it may be tenable to assert that an ex parte divorce, founded upon acquisition of domicile by one spouse in the State which granted it, is effective to destroy the marital status of both parties in the State of domiciliary origin and probably in all other States. The effect is to preclude subsequent prosecutions for bigamy but not to alter rights as to property, alimony, or custody of children in the State of domiciliary origin of a spouse who neither was served nor appeared personally.
In any event the accuracy of these conclusions has not been impaired by any decision rendered by the Court since 1948. Thus, in Armstrong v. Armstrong, an ex parte divorce decree obtained by the husband in Florida was deemed to have been adequately recognized by an Ohio court when, with both of the parties before it, it disposed of the wife's suit for divorce and alimony with a decree limited solely to an award of alimony. Similarly, a New York court was held not bound by an ex parte Nevada divorce decree, rendered without personal jurisdiction over the wife, to the extent that it relieved the husband of all marital obligations, and in an ex parte action for separation and alimony instituted by the wife, it was competent to sequester the husband's property in New York to satisfy his obligations to the wife.
Other Types of Decrees
Probate Decrees.-Many judgments, enforcement of which has given rise to litigation, embrace decrees of courts of probate respecting the distribution of estates. In order that a court have jurisdiction of such a proceeding, the decedent must have been domiciled in the state, and the question whether he was so domiciled at the time of his death may be raised in the court of a sister State. Thus, when a court of State A, in probating a will and issuing letters, in a proceeding to which all distributees were parties, expressly found that the testator's domicile at the time of death was in State A, such adjudication of domicile was held not to bind one subsequently appointed as domiciliary administrator c.t.a. in State B, in which he was liable to be called upon to deal with claims of local creditors and that of the State itself for taxes, he having not been a party to the proceeding in State A. In this situation, it was held, a court of State C, when disposing of local assets claimed by both personal representatives, was free to determine domicile in accordance with the law of State C.
Similarly, there is no such relation of privity between an executor appointed in one State and an administrator c.t.a. appointed in another State as will make a decree against the latter binding upon the former. On the other hand, judicial proceedings in one State, under which inheritance taxes have been paid and the administration upon the estate has been closed, are denied full faith and credit by the action of a probate court in another State in assuming jurisdiction and assessing inheritance taxes against the beneficiaries of the estate, when under the law of the former State the order of the probate court barring all creditors who had failed to bring in their demand from any further claim against the executors was binding upon all. What is more important, however, is that the res in such a proceeding, that is, the estate, in order to entitle the judgment to recognition under article IV, 1, must have been located in the State or legally attached to the person of the decedent. Such a judgment is accordingly valid, generally speaking, to distribute the intangible property of the decedent, though the evidences thereof were actually located elsewhere. This is not so, on the other hand, as to tangibles and realty. In order that the judgment of a probate court distributing these be entitled to recognition under the Constitution, they must have been located in the State; as to tangibles and realty outside the State, the decree of the probate court is entirely at the mercy of the lex rei sitae. So, the probate of a will in one State, while conclusive therein, does not displace legal provisions necessary to its validity as a will of real property in other States.
Adoption Decrees.-That a statute legitimizing children born out of wedlock does not entitle them by the aid of the Full Faith and Credit Clause to share in the property located in another State is not surprising, in view of the general principle, to which, however, there are exceptions, that statutes do not have extraterritorial operation. For the same reason, adoption proceedings in one State are not denied full faith and credit by the law of the sister State which excludes children adopted by proceedings in other States from the right to inherit land therein.
Garnishment Decrees.-Garnishment proceedings combine some of the elements of both an in rem and an in personam action. Suppose that A owes B and B owes C, and that the two former live in a different State than C. A, while on a brief visit to C's State, is presented with a writ attaching his debt to B and also a summons to appear in court on a named day. The result of the proceedings thus instituted is that a judgment is entered in C's favor against A to the amount of his indebtedness to B. Subsequently A is sued by B in their home State and offers the judgment, which he has in the meantime paid, in defense. It was argued in behalf of B that A's debt to him had a situs in their home State and furthermore that C could not have sued B in this same State without formally acquiring a domicile there. Both propositions were, however, rejected by the Court, which held that the judgment in the garnishment proceedings was entitled to full faith and credit as against B's action.
Penal Judgments: Types Entitled to Recognition
Finally, the clause has been interpreted in the light of the "incontrovertible maxim" that "the courts of no country execute the penal laws of another." In the leading case of Huntington v. Attrill, however, the Court so narrowly defined "penal" in this connection as to make it substantially synonymous with "criminal" and on this basis held a judgment which had been recovered under a state statute making the officers of a corporation who signed and recorded a false certificate of the amount of its capital stock liable for all of its debts to be entitled under article IV, § 1, to recognition and enforcement in the courts of sister States. Nor, in general, is a judgment for taxes to be denied full faith and credit in state and federal courts merely because it is for taxes. In Nelson v. George, in which a prisoner was tried in California and North Carolina and convicted and sentenced in both states for various felonies, the Court determined that the Full Faith and Credit Clause did not require California to enforce a penal judgment handed down by North Carolina; California was free to consider what effect if any it would give to the North Carolina detainer. Until the obligation to extradite matured, the Full Faith and Credit Clause did not require California to enforce the North Carolina penal judgment in any way.
Fraud as a Defense to Suits on Foreign Judgments
With regard to whether recognition of a state judgment can be refused by the forum State on other than jurisdictional grounds, there are dicta to the effect that judgments for which extraterritorial operation is demanded under article IV, § 1 and acts of Congress are "impeachable for manifest fraud." But unless the fraud affected the jurisdiction of the court, the vast weight of authority is against the proposition. Also, it is universally agreed that a judgment may not be impeached for alleged error or irregularity, or as contrary to the public policy of the State where recognition is sought for it under the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Previously listed cases indicate, however, that the Court in fact has permitted local policy to determine the merits of a judgment under the pretext of regulating jurisdiction. Thus in one case, Cole v. Cunningham, the Court sustained a Massachusetts court in enjoining, in connection with insolvency proceedings instituted in that State, a Massachusetts creditor from continuing in New York courts an action which had been commenced there before the insolvency suit was brought. This was done on the theory that a party within the jurisdiction of a court may be restrained from doing something in another jurisdiction opposed to principles of equity, it having been shown that the creditor was aware of the debtor's embarrassed condition when the New York action was instituted. The injunction unquestionably denied full faith and credit and commanded the assent of only five Justices.
Recognition of Rights Based Upon Constitutions, Statutes, Common law
Development of the Modern Rule
Although the language of section one suggests that the same respect should be accorded to "public acts" that is accorded to "judicial proceedings" ("full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State"), and the Court has occasionally relied on this parity of treatment, the Court has usually differentiated "the credit owed to laws (legislative measures and common law) and to judgments." The current understanding is that the Full Faith and Credit Clause is "exacting" with respect to final judgments of courts, but "is less demanding with respect to choice of laws."
The Court has explained that where statute or policy of the forum State is set up as a defense to a suit brought under the statute of another State or territory, or where a foreign statute is set up as a defense to a suit or proceedings under a local statute, the conflict is to be resolved, not by giving automatic effect to the Full Faith and Credit Clause and thus compelling courts of each State to subordinate their own statutes to those of others, but by weighing the governmental interests of each jurisdiction. That is, the Full Faith and Credit Recognition of Rights Based Upon Constitutions, Statutes, Common Law Clause, in its design to transform the States from independent sovereigns into a single unified Nation, directs that a State, when acting as the forum for litigation having multistate aspects or implications, respect the legitimate interests of other States and avoid infringement upon their sovereignty. But because the forum State is also a sovereign in its own right, in appropriate cases it may attach paramount importance to its own legitimate interests. In order for a State's substantive law to be selected in a constitutionally permissible manner, that State must have a significant contact or significant aggregation of contacts, creating state interests, such that choice of its law is neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair. Once that threshold is met, the Court will not weigh the competing interests. "[T]he question of which sovereign interest should be deemed more weighty is not one that can be easily answered," the Court explained, "declin[ing] to embark on the constitutional course of balancing coordinate States' competing interests to resolve conflicts of laws under the Full Faith and Credit Clause."
In a case decided in 1887, however, the Court remarked: "Without doubt the constitutional requirement, Art. IV, § 1, that 'full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State,' implies that the public acts of every State shall be given the same effect by the courts of another State that they have by law and usage at home." And this proposition was later held to extend to state constitutional provisions. More recently this doctrine has been stated in a very mitigated form, the Court saying that where statute or policy of the forum State is set up as a defense to a suit brought under the statute of another State or territory, or where a foreign statute is set up as a defense to a suit or proceedings under a local statute, the conflict is to be resolved, not by giving automatic effect to the Full Faith and Credit Clause and thus compelling courts of each State to subordinate its own statutes to those of others but by appraising the governmental interest of each jurisdiction and deciding accordingly. That is, the Full Faith and Credit Clause, in its design to transform the States from independent sovereigns into a single unified Nation, directs that a State, when acting as the forum for litigation having multistate aspects or implications, respect the legitimate interests of other States and avoid infringement upon their sovereignty, but because the forum State is also a sovereign in its own right, in appropriate cases it may attach paramount importance to its own legitimate interests. The clause (and the comparable due process clause standards) obligate the forum State to take jurisdiction and to apply foreign law, subject to the forum's own interest in furthering its public policy. In order "for a State's substantive law to be selected in a constitutionally permissible manner, that State must have a significant contact or significant aggregation of contacts, creating state interests, such that choice of its law is neither arbitrary nor fundamentally unfair." Obviously this doctrine endows the Court with something akin to an arbitral function in the decision of cases to which it is applied.
Transitory Actions: Death Statutes.-The initial effort in this direction was made in connection with transitory actions based on statute. Earlier, such actions had rested upon the common law, which was fairly uniform throughout the States, so that there was usually little discrepancy between the law under which the plaintiff from another jurisdiction brought his action (lex loci) and the law under which the defendant responded (lex fori). In the late seventies, however, the States, abandoning the common law rule on the subject, began passing laws which authorized the representatives of a decedent whose death had resulted from injury to bring an action for damages. The question at once presented itself whether, if such an action was brought in a State other than that in which the injury occurred, it was governed by the statute under which it arose or by the law of the forum State, which might be less favorable to the defendant. Nor was it long before the same question presented itself with respect to transitory action ex contractu, where the contract involved had been made under laws peculiar to the State where made, and with those laws in view.
Actions Upon Contract.-In Chicago & Alton R.R. v. Wiggins Ferry Co., the Court indicated that it was the law under which the contract was made, not the law of the forum State, which should govern. Its utterance on the point was, however, not merely obiter, it was based on an error, namely, the false supposition that the Constitution gives "acts" the same extraterritorial operation as the Act of 1790 does "judicial records and proceedings." Notwithstanding which, this dictum is today the basis of "the settled rule" that the defendant in a transitory action is entitled to all the benefits resulting from whatever material restrictions the statute under which plaintiff's rights of action originated sets thereto, except that courts of sister States cannot be thus prevented from taking jurisdiction in such cases.
However, the modern doctrine permits a forum State with sufficient contacts with the parties or the matter in dispute to follow its own law. In Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hague, the decedent was a Wisconsin resident who had died in an automobile accident within Wisconsin near the Minnesota border in the course of his daily employment commute to Wisconsin. He had three automobile insurance policies on three automobiles, each limited to $15,000. Following his death, his widow and personal representative moved to Minnesota, and she sued in that State. She sought to apply Minnesota law, under which she could "stack" or aggregate all three policies, permissible under Minnesota law but not allowed under Wisconsin law, where the insurance contracts had been made. The Court, in a divided opinion, permitted resort to Minnesota law, because of the number of contacts the State had with the matter. On the other hand, an earlier decision is in considerable conflict with Hague. There, a life insurance policy was executed in New York, on a New York insured, with a New York beneficiary. The insured died in New York, and his beneficiary moved to Georgia and sued to recover on the policy. The insurance company defended on the ground that the insured, in the application for the policy, had made materially false statements that rendered it void under New York law. The defense was good under New York law, impermissible under Georgia law, and Georgia's decision to apply its own law was overturned, the Court stressing the surprise to the parties of the resort to the law of another State and the absence of any occurrence in Georgia to which its law could apply.
Stockholder Corporation Relationship.-The protections of the Full Faith and Credit Clause extend beyond transitory actions. Some legal relationships are so complex, the Court holds, that the law under which they were formed ought always to govern them as long as they persist. One such relationship is that of a stockholder and his corporation. Hence, if a question arises as to the liability of the stockholders of a corporation, the courts of the forum State are required by the Full Faith and Credit Clause to determine the question in accordance with the constitution, laws and judicial decisions of the corporation's home States. Illustrative applications of the latter rule are to be found in the following cases. A New Jersey statute forbidding an action at law to enforce a stockholder's liability arising under the laws of another State and providing that such liability may be enforced only in equity, and that in such a case the corporation, its legal representatives, all its creditors, and stockholders, should be necessary parties, was held not to preclude an action at law in New Jersey by the New York superintendent of banks against 557 New Jersey stockholders in an insolvent New York bank to recover assessments made under the laws of New York. Also, in a suit to enforce double liability, brought in Rhode Island against a stockholder in a Kansas trust company, the courts of Rhode Island were held to be obligated to extend recognition to the statutes and court decisions of Kansas whereunder it is established that a Kansas judgment recovered by a creditor against the trust company is not only conclusive as to the liability of the corporation but also an adjudication binding each stockholder therein. The only defenses available to the stockholder are those which he could make in a suit in Kansas.
Fraternal Benefit Society: Member Relationship.-The same principle applies to the relationship which is formed when one takes out a policy in a "fraternal benefit society." Thus in Royal Arcanum v. Green, in which a fraternal insurance association chartered under the laws of Massachusetts was being sued in the courts of New York by a citizen of the latter State on a contract of insurance made in that State, the Court held that the defendant company was entitled under the Full Faith and Credit Clause to have the case determined in accordance with the laws of Massachusetts and its own constitution and bylaws as these had been construed by the Massachusetts courts.
Nor has the Court manifested any disposition to depart from this rule. In Sovereign Camp v. Bolin, it declared that a State in which a certificate of life membership of a foreign fraternal benefit association is issued, which construes and enforces the certificate according to its own law rather than according to the law of the State in which the association is domiciled, denies full faith and credit to the association's charter embodied in the status of the domiciliary State as interpreted by the latter's court. "The beneficiary certificate was not a mere contract to be construed and enforced according to the laws of the State where it was delivered. Entry into membership of an incorporated beneficiary society is more than a contract; it is entering into a complex and abiding relation and the rights of membership are governed by the law of the State of incorporation. [Hence] another State, wherein the certificate of membership was issued, cannot attach to membership rights against the society which are refused by the law of domicile." Consistent therewith, the Court also held, in Order of Travelers v. Wolfe, that South Dakota, in a suit brought therein by an Ohio citizen against an Ohio benefit society, must give effect to a provision of the constitution of the society prohibiting the bringing of an action on a claim more than six months after disallowance by the society, notwithstanding that South Dakota's period of limitation was six years and that its own statutes voided contract stipulations limiting the time within which rights may be enforced. Objecting to these results, Justice Black dissented on the ground that fraternal insurance companies are not entitled, either by the language of the Constitution, or by the nature of their enterprise, to such unique constitutional protection.
Insurance Company, Building and Loan Association: Contractual Relationships.- Whether or not distinguishable by nature of their enterprise, stock and mutual insurance companies and mutual building and loan associations, unlike fraternal benefit societies, have not been accorded the same unique constitutional protection; with few exceptions, they have had controversies arising out of their business relationships settled by application of the law of the forum State. In National Mutual B. & L. Ass'n v. Brahan, the principle applicable to these three forms of business organizations was stated as follows: where a corporation has become localized in a State and has accepted the laws of the State as a condition of doing business there, it cannot abrogate those laws by attempting to make contract stipulations, and there is no violation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause in instructing a jury to find according to local law notwithstanding a clause in a contract that it should be construed according to the laws of another State.
Thus, when a Mississippi borrower, having repaid a mortgage loan to a New York building and loan association, sued in a Mississippi court to recover, as usurious, certain charges collected by the association, the usury law of Mississippi rather than that of New York was held to control. In this case, the loan contract, which was negotiated in Mississippi subject to approval by the New York office, did not expressly state that it was governed by New York law. Similarly, when the New York Life Insurance Company, which had expressly stated in its application and policy forms that they would be controlled by New York law, was sued in Missouri on a policy sold to a resident thereof, the court of that State was sustained in its application of Missouri, rather than New York law. Also, in an action in a federal court in Texas to collect the amount of a life insurance policy which had been made in New York and later changed by instruments assigning beneficial interest, it was held that questions (1) whether the contract remained one governed by the law of New York with respect to rights of assignees, rather than by the law of Texas, (2) whether the public policy of Texas permits recovery by one named beneficiary who has no beneficial interest in the life of the insured, and (3) whether lack of insurable interest becomes material when the insurer acknowledges liability and pays the money into court, were questions of Texas law, to be decided according to Texas decisions. Similarly, a State, by reason of its potential obligation to care for dependents of persons injured or killed within its limits, is conceded to have a substantial interest in insurance policies, wherever issued, which may afford compensation for such losses; accordingly, it is competent, by its own direct action statute, to grant the injured party a direct cause of action against the insurer of the tortfeasor, and to refuse to enforce the law of the State, in which the policy is issued or delivered, which recognizes as binding a policy stipulation which forbids direct actions until after the determination of the liability of the insured tortfeasor.
Consistent with the latter holding are the following two involving mutual insurance companies. In Pink v. A.A.A. Highway Express, the New York insurance commissioner, as a statutory liquidator of an insolvent auto mutual company organized in New York, sued resident Georgia policyholders in a Georgia court to recover assessments alleged to be due by virtue of their membership in it. The Supreme Court held that, although by the law of the State of incorporation, policyholders of a mutual insurance company become members thereof and as such liable to pay assessments adjudged to be required in liquidation proceedings in that State, the courts of another State are not required to enforce such liability against local resident policyholders who did not appear and were not personally served in the foreign liquidation proceedings but are free to decide according to local law the questions whether, by entering into the policies, residents became members of the company. Again, in State Farm Ins. Co. v. Duel, the Court ruled that an insurance company chartered in State A, which does not treat membership fees as part of premiums, cannot plead denial of full faith and credit when State B, as a condition of entry, requires the company to maintain a reserve computed by including membership fees as well as premiums received in all States. Were the company's contention accepted, "no State," the Court observed, "could impose stricter financial standards for foreign corporations doing business within its borders than were imposed by the State of incorporation." It is not apparent, the Court added, that State A has an interest superior to that of State B in the financial soundness and stability of insurance companies doing business in State B.
Workers' Compensation Statutes.-Finally, the relationship of employer and employee, insofar as the obligations of the one and the rights of the other under workmen's compensation acts are concerned, has been the subject of differing and confusing treatment. In an early case, the injury occurred in New Hampshire, resulting in death to a worker who had entered the defendant company's employ in Vermont, the home State of both parties. The Court required the New Hampshire courts to respect a Vermont statute which precluded a worker from bringing a common-law action against his employer for job related injuries where the employment relation was formed in Vermont, prescribing a constitutional rule giving priority to the place of the establishment of the employment relationship over the place of injury. The same result was achieved in a subsequent case, but the Court promulgated a new rule, applied thereafter, which emphasized a balancing of the governmental interests of each jurisdiction, rather than the mere application of the statutory rule of one or another State under full faith and credit. Thus, the Court held that the clause did not preclude California from disregarding a Massachusett's workmen's compensation statute, making its law exclusive of any common law action or any law of any other jurisdiction, and applying its own act in the case of an injury suffered by a Massachusetts employee of a Massachusetts employer while in California in the course of his employment. It is therefore settled that an injured worker may seek a compensation award either in the State in which the injury occurred or in the State in which the employee resided, his employer was principally located, and the employment relation was formed, even if one statute or the other purported to confer an exclusive remedy on the worker.
Less settled is the question whether a second State, with interests in the matter, may supplement a workers' compensation award provided in the first State. At first, the Court ruled that a Louisiana employee of a Louisiana employer, who was injured on the job in Texas and who received an award under the Texas act, which did not grant further recovery to an employee who received compensation under the laws of another State, could not obtain additional compensation under the Louisiana statute. Shortly, however, the Court departed from this holding, permitting Wisconsin, the State of the injury, to supplement an award pursuant to the laws of Illinois, where the worker resided and where the employment contract had been entered into. Although the second case could have been factually distinguished from the first, the Court instead chose to depart from the principle of the first, saying that only if the laws of the first State making an award contained "unmistakable language" to the effect that those laws were exclusive of any remedy under the laws of any other State would supplementary awards be precluded. While the overwhelming number of state court decisions since follow McCartin, and Magnolia has been little noticed, all the Justices have recently expressed dissatisfaction with the former case as a rule of the Full Faith and Credit Clause, although a majority of the Court followed it and permitted a supplementary award.
Full Faith and Credit and Statutes of Limitation.-The Full Faith and Credit Clause is not violated by a state statute providing that all suits upon foreign judgments shall be brought within five years after such judgment shall have been obtained, where the statute has been construed by the state courts as barring suits on foreign judgments, only if the plaintiff could not revive his judgment in the state where it was originally obtained.
Full Faith and Credit: Miscellany
Full Faith and Credit in Federal Courts
The rule of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1738-1739 pertains not merely to recognition by state courts of the records and judicial proceedings of courts of sister States but to recognition by "every court within the United States," including recognition of the records and proceedings of the courts of any territory or any country subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The federal courts are bound to give to the judgments of the state courts the same faith and credit that the courts of one State are bound to give to the judgments of the courts of her sister States. Where suits to enforce the laws of one State are entertained in courts of another on principles of comity, federal district courts sitting in that State may entertain them and should, if they do not infringe federal law or policy. However, the refusal of a territorial court in Hawaii, having jurisdiction of the action which was on a policy issued by a New York insurance company, to admit evidence that an administrator had been appointed and a suit brought by him on a bond in the federal court in New York wherein no judgment had been entered, did not violate this clause.
The power to prescribe what effect shall be given to the judicial proceedings of the courts of the United States is conferred by other provisions of the Constitution, such as those which declare the extent of the judicial power of the United States, which authorize all legislation necessary and proper for executing the powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, and which declare the supremacy of the authority of the National Government within the limits of the Constitution. As part of its general authority, the power to give effect to the judgment of its courts is coextensive with its territorial jurisdiction.
Evaluation Of Results Under Provision
The Court, after according an extrastate operation to statutes and judicial decisions in favor of defendants in transitory actions, proceeded next to confer the same protection upon certain classes of defendants in local actions in which the plaintiff's claim was the outgrowth of a relationship formed extraterritorially. But can the Court stop at this point? If it is true, as Chief Justice Marshall once remarked, that "the Constitution was not made for the benefit of plaintiffs alone," so also it is true that it was not made for the benefit of defendants alone. The day may come when the Court will approach the question of the relation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause to the extrastate operation of laws from the same angle as it today views the broader question of the scope of state legislative power. When and if this day arrives, state statutes and judicial decisions will be given such extraterritorial operation as seems reasonable to the Court to give them. In short, the rule of the dominance of legal policy of the forum State will be superseded by that of judicial review.
The question arises whether the application to date, not by the Court alone but by Congress and the Court, of article IV, § 1, can be said to have met the expectations of its Framers. In the light of some things said at the time of the framing of the clause this may be doubted. The protest was raised against the clause that, in vesting Congress with power to declare the effect state laws should have outside the enacting State, it enabled the new government to usurp the powers of the States, but the objection went unheeded. The main concern of the Convention, undoubtedly, was to render the judgments of the state courts in civil cases effective throughout the Union. Yet even this object has been by no means completely realized, owing to the doctrine of the Court, that before a judgment of a state court can be enforced in a sister State, a new suit must be brought on it in the courts of the latter, and the further doctrine that with respect to such a suit, the judgment sued on is only evidence; the logical deduction from this proposition is that the sister State is under no constitutional compulsion to give it a forum. These doctrines were first clearly stated in the McElmoyle case and flowed directly from the new states' rights premises of the Court, but they are no longer in harmony with the prevailing spirit of constitutional construction nor with the needs of the times. Also, the clause seems always to have been interpreted on the basis of the assumption that the term "judicial proceedings" refers only to final judgments and does not include intermediate processes and writs, but the assumption would seem to be groundless, and if it is, then Congress has the power under the clause to provide for the service and execution throughout the United States of the judicial processes of the several States.
Scope of Powers of Congress Under Provision
Under the present system, suit ordinarily has to be brought where the defendant, the alleged wrongdoer, resides, which means generally where no part of the transaction giving rise to the action took place. What could be more irrational? "Granted that no state can of its own volition make its process run beyond its borders . . . is it unreasonable that the United States should by federal action be made a unit in the manner suggested?''
Indeed, there are few clauses of the Constitution, the merely literal possibilities of which have been so little developed as the Full Faith and Credit Clause. Congress has the power under the clause to decree the effect that the statutes of one State shall have in other States. This being so, it does not seem extravagant to argue that Congress may under the clause describe a certain type of divorce and say that it shall be granted recognition throughout the Union and that no other kind shall. Or to speak in more general terms, Congress has under the clause power to enact standards whereby uniformity of state legislation may be secured as to almost any matter in connection with which interstate recognition of private rights would be useful and valuable.
Judgments of Foreign States
Doubtless Congress, by virtue of its powers in the field of foreign relations, might also lay down a mandatory rule regarding recognition of foreign judgments in every court of the United States. At present the duty to recognize judgments even in national courts rests only on comity and is qualified in the judgment of the Supreme Court, by a strict rule of parity.
Clark v. Graham, 19 U.S. (6 Wheat.) 577 (1821), is an early case in which the Supreme Court enforced this rule.
Congressional legislation under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, so far as it is pertinent to adjudication hereunder, is today embraced in 28 U.S.C. §§ 1738- 1739. See also 28 U.S.C. §§ 1740-1742.
Mankin v. Chandler, 16 F. Cas. 625, 626 (No. 9030) (C.C.D. Va. 1823).
11 U.S. (7 Cr.) 481 (1813). See also Everett v. Everett, 215 U.S. 203 (1909); Insurance Company v. Harris, 97 U.S. 331 (1878).
1 Stat. 122.
On the same basis, a judgment cannot be impeached either in, or out of, the State by showing that it was based on a mistake of law. American Express Co. v. Mullins, 212 U.S. 311, 312 (1909). Fauntleroy v. Lum, 210 U.S. 230 (1908); Hartford Life Ins. Co. v. Ibs, 237 U.S. 662 (1915); Hartford Life Ins. Co. v. Barber, 245 U.S. 146 (1917).
16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 234 (1818).
38 U.S. (13 Pet.) 312 (1839). See also Townsend v. Jemison, 50 U.S. (9 How.) 407, 413-420 (1850); Bank of Alabama v. Dalton, 50 U.S. (9 How.) 522 , 528 (1850); Bacon v. Howard, 61 U.S. (20 How.) 22, 25 (1858); Christmas v. Russell, 72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 290, 301 (1866); Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 292 (1888); Great Western Tel. Co. v. Purdy, 162 U.S. 329 (1896); Wells v. Simonds Abrasive Co., 345 U.S. 514, 516 -518 (1953). Recently, the Court reconsidered and adhered to the rule of these cases, although the Justices divided with respect to rationales. Sun Oil Co. v. Wortman, 486 U.S. 717 (1988). Acknowledging that in some areas it had treated statutes of limitations as substantive rules, such as in diversity cases to insure uniformity with state law in federal courts, the Court ruled that such rules are procedural for full-faith-and-credit purposes, since "[t]he purpose . . . of the Full Faith and Credit Clause . . . is . . . to delimit spheres of state legislative competence." id. at 727.
Cole v. Cunningham, 133 U.S. 107 , 112 (1890). See also Stacy v. Thrasher, 47 U.S. (6 How.) 44 , 61 (1848); Milwaukee County v. White Co., 296 U.S. 268 (1935).
Chicago & Alton R.R. v. Wiggins Ferry Co., 119 U.S. 615, 622(1887); Hanley v. Donoghue, 116 U.S. 1, 3 (1885). See also Green v. Van Buskirk, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 139 , 140 (1869); Bigelow v. Old Dominion Copper Co., 225 U. S. 111 (1912); Roche v. McDonald, 275 U.S. 449 (1928); Ohio v. Chattanooga Boiler Co., 289 U.S. 439 (1933).
Sistare v. Sistare, 218 U.S. 1 (1910).
Michigan Trust Co. v. Ferry, 228 U.S. 346 (1913). See also Fall v. Eastin, 215 U.S. 1 (1909).
Milwaukee County v. White Co., 296 U.S. 268, 275 -276 (1935).
Board of Public Works v. Columbia College, 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 521 (1873); Robertson v. Pickrell, 109 U.S. 608, 610 (1883).
Kersh Lake Dist. v. Johnson, 309 U.S. 485 (1940). See also Texas & Pac. Ry. v. Southern Pacific Co., 137 U.S. 48 (1890).
National Exchange Bank v. Wiley, 195 U.S. 257, 265 (1904). See also Grover & Baker Machine Co. v. Radcliffe, 137 U.S. 287 (1890).
Harding v. Harding, 198 U.S. 317 (1905).
16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 234 (1818).
Anglo-American Provision Co. v. Davis Provision Co., 191 U.S. 373 (1903).
Fauntleroy v. Lum, 210 U.S. 230 (1908). Justice Holmes, who spoke for the Court in both cases, asserted in his opinion in the latter that the New York statute was "directed to jurisdiction," the Mississippi statute to "merits," but four Justices could not grasp the distinction.
Kenney v. Supreme Lodge, 252 U.S. 411 (1920), and cases there cited. Holmes again spoke for the Court. See also Cook, The Powers of Congress under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, 28 YALE L.J. 421, 434 (1919).
Broderick v. Rosner, 294 U.S. 629 (1935), approved in Hughes v. Fetter, 341 U.S. 609 (1951).
Union Nat'l Bank v. Lamb, 337 U.S. 38 (1949); see also Roche v. McDonald, 275 U.S. 449 (1928).
Embry v. Palmer, 107 U.S. 3 , 13 (1883).
Titus v. Wallick, 306 U.S. 282 , 291 -292 (1939).
Morris v. Jones, 329 U.S. 545 (1947). Moreover, there is no apparent reason why Congress, acting on the implications of Marshall's words in Hampton v. McConnell, 16 U.S. (3 Wheat.) 234 (1818), should not clothe extrastate judgments of any particular type with the full status of domestic judgments of the same type in the several States. Thus, why should not a judgment for alimony be made directly enforceable in sister States instead of merely furnishing the basis of an action in debt?
Cooper v. Reynolds, 77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 308 (1870); Western Union Tel. Co. v. Pennsylvania, 368 U.S. 71 (1961). Full faith and credit extends to the issue of the original court's jurisdiction, when the second court's inquiry discloses that the question of jurisdiction had been fully and fairly litigated and finally decided in the court which rendered the original judgment. Durfee v. Duke, 375 U.S. 106 (1963); Underwriters Assur. Co. v. North Carolina Life Ins. Ass'n, 455 U.S. 691 (1982).
Board of Public Works v. Columbia College, 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 521, 528 (1873). See also Wisconsin v. Pelican Ins. Co., 127 U.S. 265, 291 (1888); Huntington v. Attrill, 146 U.S. 657, 685 (1892); Brown v. Fletcher's Estate, 210 U.S. 82 (1908); Bigelow v. Old Dominion Copper Co., 225 U.S. 111 (1912); Spokane Inland R.R. v. Whitley, 237 U.S. 487 (1915). However, a denial of credit, founded upon a mere suggestion of want of jurisdiction and unsupported by evidence, violates the clause. Rogers v. Alabama, 192 U.S. 226, 231 (1904); Wells Fargo & Co. v. Ford, 238 U.S. 503 (1915).
Grover & Baker Machine Co. v. Radcliffe, 137 U.S. 287 (1890). See also Galpin v. Page, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 350 (1874); Old Wayne Life Ass'n v. McDonough, 204 U.S. 8 (1907); Brown v. Fletcher's Estate, 210 U.S. 82 (1908).
Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714 (1878). See, for a reformulation of this case's due process foundation, Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977).
Renaud v. Abbot, 116 U.S. 277 (1886); Jaster v. Currie, 198 U.S. 144 (1905); Reynolds v. Stockton, 140 U.S. 254 (1891).
Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 463 (1940). In the pioneer case of D'Arcy v. Ketchum, 52 U.S. (1 How.) 165 (1851), the question presented was whether a judgment rendered by a New York court, under a statute which provided that, when joint debtors were sued and one of them was brought into court on a process, a judgment in favor of the plaintiff would entitle him to execute against all, must be accorded full faith and credit in Louisiana when offered as a basis of an action in debt against a resident of that State who had not been served by process in the New York action. The Court ruled that the original implementing statute, 1 Stat. 122 (1790), did not reach this type of case, and hence the New York judgment was not enforceable in Louisiana against defendant. Had the Louisiana defendant thereafter ventured to New York, however, he could, as the Constitution then stood, have been subjected to the judgment to the same extent as the New York defendant who had been personally served. Subsequently, the disparity between operation of personal judgment in the home State has been eliminated, because of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. In divorce cases, however, it still persists in some measure. See infra.
Adam v. Saenger, 303 U.S. 59, 62 (1938).
Hancock Nat'l Bank v. Farnum, 176 U.S. 640 (1900).
Stacy v. Thrasher, 47 U.S. (6 How.) 44, 58 (1848).
Bigelow v. Old Dominion Copper Co., 225 U.S. 111 (1912).
59 U.S. (18 How.) 404 (1856).
To the same effect is Connecticut Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Spratley, 172 U.S. 602 (1899).
Simon v. Southern Ry., 236 U.S. 115 (1915).
Goldey v. Morning News, 156 U.S. 518 (1895); Riverside Mills v. Menfee, 237 U.S. 189 (1915).
International Harvester v. Kentucky, 234 U.S. 579 (1914). Riverside Mills v. Menefee, 237 U.S. 189 (1915).
International Harvester v. Kentucky, 234 U.S. 579 (1914).
Kane v. New Jersey, 242 U.S. 160 (1916); Hess v. Pawloski, 274 U.S. 352 (1927), limited in Wuchter v. Pizzutti, 276 U.S. 13 (1928).
85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 457 (1874).
1 H. BLACK, A TREATISE ON THE LAW OF JUDGMENTS § 246 (1891).
See also Simmons v. Saul, 138 U.S. 439, 448 (1891). In other words, the challenge to jurisdiction is treated as equivalent to the plea nul tiel record, a plea which was recognized even in Mills v. Duryee as available against an attempted invocation of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. What is not pointed out by the Court is that it was also assumed in the earlier case that such a plea could always be rebutted by producing a transcript, properly authenticated in accordance with the act of Congress, of the judgment in the original case. See also Brown v. Fletcher's Estate, 210 U.S. 82 (1908); German Savings Soc'y v. Dormitzer, 192 U.S. 125, 128 (1904); Grover & Baker Machine Co. v. Radcliffe, 137 U.S. 287, 294 (1890).
Cheever v. Wilson, 76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 108 (1870).
Andrews v. Andrews, 188 U.S. 14 (1903). See also German Savings Soc'y v. Dormitzer, 192 U.S. 125 (1904).
181 U.S. 15 5, 162 (1901).
201 U.S. 562 (1906).
317 U.S. 287 (1942); 325 U.S. 226 (1945).
305 U.S. 32 (1938).
317 U.S. 28 7, 298 -299 (1942).
Id. at 302.
Id. at 311.
325 U.S. 22 6, 229 (1945).
Bell v. Bell, 181 U.S. 175 (1901); Andrews v. Andrews, 188 U.S. 14 (1903).
Strong dissents were filed which have influenced subsequent holdings. Among these was that of Justice Rutledge which attacked both the consequences of the decision as well as the concept of jurisdictional domicile on which it was founded.
"Unless 'matrimonial domicil,' banished in Williams I [by the overruling of Haddock v. Haddock], has returned renamed ['domicil of origin'] in Williams II, every decree becomes vulnerable in every State. Every divorce, wherever granted . . . may now be reexamined by every other State, upon the same or different evidence, to redetermine the 'jurisdiction fact,' always the ultimate conclusion of 'domicil.' . . ."
"The Constitution does not mention domicil. Nowhere does it posit the powers of the states or the nation upon that amorphous, highly variable common law conception.... No legal conception, save possibly 'jurisdiction' . . . afford such possibilities for uncertain application.... Apart from the necessity for travel, [to effect a change of domicile, the latter], criterion comes down to a purely subjective mental state, related to remaining for a length of time never yet defined with clarity. ... When what must be proved is a variable, the proof and the conclusion which follows upon it inevitably take on that character.... [The majority have not held] that denial of credit will be allowed, only if the evidence [as to the place of domicile] is different or depending in any way upon the character or the weight of the difference. The test is not different evidence. It is evidence, whether the same or different and, if different, without regard to the quality of the difference, from which an opposing set of inferences can be drawn by the trier of fact 'not unreasonably.' ... But . . . [the Court] does not define 'not unreasonably.' It vaguely suggests a supervisory function, to be exercised when the denial [of credit] strikes its sensibilities as wrong, by some not stated standard.... There will be no 'weighing' [of evidence], ... only examination for sufficiency." 325 U.S. at 248, 251, 255, 258- 259.
No less disposed to prophesy undesirable results from this decision was Justice Black in whose dissenting opinion Justice Douglas concurred.
"The Full Faith and Credit Clause, as now interpreted, has become a disrupting influence. The Court in effect states that the clause does not apply to divorce actions, and that States alone have the right to determine what effect shall be given to the decrees of other States. If the Court is abandoning the principle that a marriage [valid where made is valid everywhere], a consequence is to subject people to bigamy or adultery prosecutions because they exercise their constitutional right to pass from a State in which they were validly married on to another which refuses to recognize their marriage. Such a consequence violates basic guarantees." Id. at 262.
334 U.S. 343 (1948).
334 U.S. 378 (1948). In a dissenting opinion filed in the case of Sherrer v. Sherrer, but applicable also to the case of Coe v. Coe, Justice Frankfurter, with Justice Murphy concurring, asserted his inability to accept the proposition advanced by the majority that "regardless of how overwhelming the evidence may have been that the asserted domicile in the State offering bargain-counter divorces was a sham, the home State of the parties is not permitted to question the matter if the form of a controversy had been gone through." 334 U.S. at 343, 377.
336 U.S. 674 (1949). Of four justices dissenting, Black, Douglas, Rutledge, and Jackson, Justice Jackson alone filed a written opinion. To him the decision was "an example of the manner in which, in the law of domestic relations, 'confusion now hath made his masterpiece,' but for the first Williams case and its progeny, the judgment of the Connecticut court might properly have held that the Rice divorce decree was void for every purpose because it was rendered by a State court which never obtained jurisdiction of the nonresident defendant. But if we adhere to the holdings that the Nevada court had power over her for the purpose of blasting her marriage and opening the way to a successor, I do not see the justice of inventing a compensating confusion in the device of divisible divorce by which the parties are half-bound and half-free and which permits Rice to have a wife who cannot become his widow and to leave a widow who was no longer his wife." Id. at 676, 679, 680.
Vermont violated the clause in sustaining a collateral attack on a Florida divorce decree, the presumption of Florida's jurisdiction over the cause and the parties not having been overcome by extrinsic evidence or the record of the case. Cook v. Cook, 342 U.S. 126 (1951). The Sherrer and Coe cases were relied upon. There seems, therefore, to be no doubt of their continued vitality.
A Florida divorce decree was also at the bottom of another case in which the daughter of a divorced man by his first wife and his legatee under his will sought to attack his divorce in the New York courts and thereby indirectly his third marriage. The Court held that inasmuch as the attack would not have been permitted in Florida under the doctrine of res judicata, it was not permissible under the Full Faith and Credit Clause in New York. On the whole, it appears that the principle of res judicata is slowly winning out against the principle of domicile. Johnson v. Muelberger, 340 U.S. 581 (1951).
325 U.S. 279 (1945).
Id. at 281-283.
334 U.S. 541 (1948). See also the companion case of Kreiger v. Kreiger, 334 U.S. 555 (1948).
Esenwein v. Commonwealth, 325 U.S. 279, 280 (1945).
Because the record, in his opinion, did not make it clear whether New York "law" held that no "ex parte" divorce decree could terminate a prior New York separate maintenance decree, or merely that no "ex parte" decree of divorce of another State could, Justice Frankfurter dissented and recommended that the case be remanded for clarification. Justice Jackson dissented on the ground that under New York law, a New York divorce would terminate the wife's right to alimony, and if the Nevada decree is good, it was entitled to no less effect in New York than a local decree. However, for reasons stated in his dissent in the first Williams case, 317 U.S. 287, he would have preferred not to give standing to constructive service divorces obtained on short residence. 334 U.S. 541, 549- 554 (1948). These two Justices filed similar dissents in the companion case of Kreiger v. Kreiger, 334 U.S. 555, 557 (1948).
381 U.S. 81 (1965).
Id. at 84-85.
334 U.S. 541 (1948).
381 U.S. at 84-85.
Id. at 85.
Barber v. Barber, 323 U.S. 77, 84 (1944).
Sistare v. Sistare, 218 U.S. 1, 11 (1910). See also Barber v. Barber, 62 U.S. (21 How.) 582 (1859); Lynde v. Lynde, 181 U.S. 183, 186-187 (1901); Audubon v. Shufeldt, 181 U.S. 575, 577 (1901); Bates v. Bodie, 245 U.S. 520 (1918); Yarborough v. Yarborough, 290 U.S. 202 (1933); Loughran v. Loughran, 292 U.S. 216 (1934).
Griffin v. Griffin, 327 U.S. 220 (1946).
Id. at 228. An alimony case of a quite extraordinary pattern was that of Sutton v. Leib, 342 U.S. 402 (1952). Because of the diverse citizenship of the parties, who had once been husband and wife, the case was brought by the latter in a federal court in Illinois. Her suit was to recover unpaid alimony which was to continue until her remarriage. To be sure, she had, as she confessed, remarried in Nevada, but the marriage had been annulled in New York on the ground that the man was already married, inasmuch as his divorce from his previous wife was null and void, she having neither entered a personal appearance nor been personally served. The Court, speaking by Justice Reed, held that the New York annulment of the Nevada marriage must be given full faith and credit in Illinois but left Illinois to decide for itself the effect of the annulment upon the obligations of petitioner's first husband.
Halvey v. Halvey, 330 U.S. 610, 615 (1947).
May v. Anderson, 345 U.S. 528 (1953). Justices Jackson, Reed, and Minton dissented.
356 U.S. 604 (1958). Rejecting the implication that recognition must be accorded unless the circumstances have changed, Justice Frankfurter dissented on the ground that in determining what is best for the welfare of the child, the forum court cannot be bound by an absentee, foreign custody decree, "irrespective of whether changes in circumstances are objectively provable."
Ford v. Ford, 371 U.S. 187, 192 -194 (1962). As part of a law dealing with parental kidnapping, Congress, in Pub. L. 96-611, 8(a), 94 Stat. 3569, 28 U.S. C. § 1738A, required States to give full faith and credit to state court custody decrees provided the original court had jurisdiction and is the home State of the child.
334 U.S. 541 (1948).
350 U.S. 568 (1956).
Four Justices, Black, Douglas, Clark, and Chief Justice Warren, disputed the Court's contention that the Florida decree contained no ruling on the wife's entitlement to alimony and mentioned that for want of personal jurisdiction over the wife, the Florida court was not competent to dispose of that issue. Id. at 575
Vanderbilt v. Vanderbilt, 354 U.S. 416 (1957). Two Justices dissented. Justice Frankfurter was unable to perceive "why dissolution of the marital relation is not so personal as to require personal jurisdiction over the absent spouse, while the denial of alimony . . . is." Justice Harlan maintained that inasmuch as the wife did not become a domiciliary of New York until after the Nevada decree, she had no pre-divorce rights in New York which the latter was obligated to protect.
Tilt v. Kelsey, 207 U.S. 43 (1907); Burbank v. Ernst, 232 U.S. 162 (1914).
Riley v. New York Trust Co., 315 U.S. 343 (1942).
Brown v. Fletcher's Estate, 210 U.S. 82, 90 (1908). See also Stacy v. Thrasher, 47 U.S. (6 How.) 44, 58 (1848); McLean v. Meek, 59 U.S. (18 How.) 16, 18 (1856).
Tilt v. Kelsey, 207 U.S. 43 (1907). In the case of Borer v. Chapman, 119 U. S. 587, 599 (1887), involving a complicated set of facts, it was held that a judgment in a probate proceeding, which was merely ancillary to proceedings in another State and which ordered the residue of the estate to be assigned to the legatee and discharged the executor from further liability, did not prevent a creditor, who was not a resident of the State in which the ancillary judgment was rendered, from setting up his claim in the state probate court which had the primary administration of the estate.
Blodgett v. Silberman, 277 U.S. 1 (1928).
Kerr v. Moon, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 565 (1824); McCormick v. Sullivant, 23 U.S. (10 Wheat.) 192 (1825); Clarke v. Clarke, 178 U.S. 186 (1900). The controlling principle of these cases is not confined to proceedings in probate. A court of equity "not having jurisdiction of the res cannot affect it by its decree nor by a deed made by a master in accordance with the decree." Fall v. Eastin, 215 U.S. 1, 11 (1909).
Robertson v. Pickrell, 109 U.S. 608, 611 (1883). See also Darby v. Mayer, 23 U.S. (10 Wheat.) 465 (1825); Gasquet v. Fenner, 247 U.S. 16 (1918).
Olmstead v. Olmstead, 216 U.S. 386 (1910).
Hood v. McGehee, 237 U.S. 611 (1915).
Harris v. Balk, 198 U.S. 215 (1905). See also Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. v. Sturm, 174 U.S. 710 (1899); King v. Cross, 175 U.S. 396, 399 (1899); Louisville & Nashville Railroad v. Deer, 200 U.S. 176 (1906); Baltimore & Ohio R.R. v. Hostetter, 240 U.S. 620 (1916). Harris itself has not survived the due process reformulation of Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186 (1977). See Rush v. Savchuk, 444 U.S. 320 (1980).
The Antelope, 23 U.S. (10 Wheat.) 66, 123 (1825).