Bank United States v. Deveaux (1809)

In Bank United States v. Deveaux (1809) (5 Cranch) 9 U.S. 61, the Supreme Court found a "conclusive argument" against finding a jurisdictional grant in the "sue and be sued" clause in the fact that another provision of the same document authorized suits by and against bank officers "in any court of record of the United States, or of either of them. . . ." See 5 Cranch, at 86. In contrasting these two provisions, the Deveaux Court plainly intended to indicate the degree of specificity required for a jurisdictional grant. That is certainly how the Osborn Court understood Deveaux, as it described the latter provision as an "express grant of jurisdiction," 9 Wheat., at 818, in contrast to the first Bank charter's "sue and be sued" provision, which "without mentioning the courts of the Union," ibid., was held merely to give the Bank "a general capacity . . . to sue but not a right to sue in those courts," ibid. Chief Justice Marshall said: "The judicial department was introduced into the American constitution under impressions, and with views, which are too apparent not to be perceived by all. However true the fact may be, that the tribunals of the states will administer justice as impartially as those of the nation, to parties of every description, it is not less true that the constitution itself either entertains apprehensions on this subject, or views with such indulgence the possible fears and apprehensions of suitors, that it has established national tribunals for the decision of controversies between aliens and a citizen, or between citizens of different states." In Deveaux, the Court recognized that corporations had been considered as possessing "corporeal qualities," id., at 89, but concluded that the actual parties to the controversy were "the members of the corporation . . . who come into court, in this case, under their corporate name." (Id., at 91.) By 1854, the Court no longer characterized the corporation as merely possessing "corporeal qualities," but rather as a "juridical person," which made an even stronger case for recognizing a corporation as a proper party in its own right before the Court.