A STATUTORY STUDY OF JURISDICTION

Most words used in statutes are undefined, and often to determine the meaning of a particular word requires resorting to that word’s context, which can provide its meaning. The word “jurisdiction” has multiple meanings, such as referring to the statutory jurisdiction of a court or government agency. But this study examines the meaning of “jurisdiction” in a geographical sense: from a Congressional viewpoint, what does Congress mean when it refers to the jurisdiction of a State in this American Union, and what does it mean when it refers to the jurisdiction of the United States? What geographical areas are within State jurisdiction, and what is within that of the United States?  Are  geographical areas within a State subject to the jurisdiction of the United States?

Art. 1, § 8, cl. 17 of the U.S. Constitution governs the manner by which the United States acquires jurisdiction over “Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings” in the several States. If you are not familiar with this provision of the Constitution, please study this brief. Some of the relevant cases regarding this issue are collected on these pages:

Supreme Court           Federal Appellate Courts          State Appellate Courts

You are also invited to study this 1957 report regarding jurisdiction, authored by the federal government.

In the past when Congress accepted the grant of “exclusive jurisdiction” over a tract of land from a State of this Union, for instance when a lighthouse was going to be constructed, Congress would enact laws specifying that the State where the lighthouse was located had to transfer exclusive jurisdiction over that real property to the United States. Such Congressional acts appear to acknowledge that before the transfer of such land, the State, in fact and as a matter of law, had exclusive jurisdiction of that land and the United States  had none.

On February 27, 1801, Congress enacted the law creating Washington, D.C., and that act created two counties, Washington County on the Maryland side, and Alexandria County on the Virginia side. See 2 Stat. 103. Later on July 9, 1846, it was decided to abandon the lands in northern Virginia west of the Potomac, including the city of Alexandria. See below 9 Stat. 36. Please note the language used in this act highlighted in yellow. Is such language significant regarding the jurisdiction that the United States has within the States of this Union?

The chart below collects pages from various Congressional acts published in the U.S. Statutes at Large where the word “jurisdiction” appears. Are these examples of federal laws indicative of the jurisdiction that the United States has within a State? 

1 Stat. 108

1 Stat. 452

1 Stat. 607

2 Stat. 349

4 Stat. 245

4 Stat. 365

4 Stat. 709

4 Stat. 710

5 Stat. 49

5 Stat. 468

9 Stat. 36

9 Stat. 1000

10 Stat. 118

10 Stat. 344

10 Stat. 602

11 Stat. 226

12 Stat. 539

16 Stat. 188

16 Stat. 399

17 Stat. 39

17 Stat. 387

17 Stat. 514

19 Stat. 270

20 Stat. 39

21 Stat. 65

21 Stat. 66

21 Stat. 142

22 Stat. 43

22 Stat. 62

22 Stat. 88

22 Stat. 93

22 Stat. 95

22 Stat. 96

22 Stat. 97

22 Stat. 101

22 Stat. 153

22 Stat. 154

22 Stat. 161

22 Stat. 177

22 Stat. 217

23 Stat. 304

23 Stat. 320

23 Stat. 331

23 Stat. 336

23 Stat. 338

23 Stat. 346

23 Stat. 347

23 Stat. 348

24 Stat. 10

24 Stat. 158

24 Stat. 161

24 Stat. 360

24 Stat. 393

24 Stat. 394

24 Stat. 468

24 Stat. 646

29 Stat. 878

72 Stat. 979

75 Stat. 398

76 Stat. 436

76 Stat. 438

76 Stat. 545

76 Stat. 1129

77 Stat. 19

77 Stat. 56

78 Stat. 336

78 Stat. 611

78 Stat. 619

79 Stat. 582

80 Stat. 202

80 Stat. 874

80 Stat. 1180

81 Stat. 339

82 Stat. 177

83 Stat. 100

83 Stat. 446

84 Stat. 1226

86 Stat. 1154

87 Stat. 77

87 Stat. 195

90 Stat. 236

90 Stat. 1939

90 Stat. 1942

90 Stat. 2741

92 Stat. 1064

92 Stat. 1999

93 Stat. 60

96 Stat. 1378

98 Stat. 3409

102 Stat. 3834

102 Stat. 3966

103 Stat. 1849

104 Stat. 465

113 Stat. 1292

116 Stat. 1139

116 Stat. 1155

119 Stat. 2161

119 Stat. 2935

Is "within the United States" the same as "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States"? Here is an opinion of a U.S. Attorney General. Examine these pages:

35 Stat. 1089

35 Stat. 1119

35 Stat. 1135

35 Stat. 1136

35 Stat. 1137

48 Stat. 19

48 Stat. 885

49 Stat. 494

49 Stat. 877

52 Stat. 4

54 Stat. 231

54 Stat. 1134

* * * * * * * * *

RIGHTFUL SUBJECTS OF LEGISLATION

A phrase used by Congress in the past was "rightful subjects of legislation," or, alternatively, lawful subjects of legislation. The opposite of this phrase is "wrongful subjects of legislation," or, alternatively, unlawful subjects of legislation. This is a particularly useful phrase and should become a common one among legal scholars and freedom lovers.

On March 26, 1804, Congress created the Territory of Orleans from lands acquired via the Louisiana Purchase. See 2 Stat. 283. The legislative council created for that territory was granted power to enact laws applicable to “rightful subjects of legislation.” See 2 Stat. 284. On March 30, 1822, Congress created the Territory of Florida. See 3 Stat. 654. The Florida legislative council’s power extended to "rightful subjects of legislation." See 3 Stat. 655. See amendment at 3 Stat. 750, 3 Stat. 751. On April 20, 1836, the Territory of Wisconsin was created. See 5 Stat. 10. The power to enact laws for that territory extended to “rightful subjects of legislation.” See 5 Stat. 12.

The following table indicates various acts of Congress that have used this phrase, "rightful subjects of legislation." Links are provided to old volumes of the U.S. Statutes at Large published on the Net, as well as to specific pages from the indicated act where this phrase appears:

Territory of Iowa

5 Stat. 235

5 Stat. 237

Territory of Oregon

9 Stat. 323

9 Stat. 325

Territory of Minnesota

9 Stat. 403

9 Stat. 405

Territory of New Mexico

9 Stat. 446

9 Stat. 449

Territory of Utah

9 Stat. 453

9 Stat. 454

Territories of Nebraska and Kansas

10 Stat. 277

10 Stat. 279

10 Stat. 285

Territory of Colorado

12 Stat. 172

12 Stat. 174

Territory of Nevada

12 Stat. 209

12 Stat. 211

Territory of Dakota

12 Stat. 239

12 Stat. 241

Territory of Idaho

12 Stat. 808

12 Stat. 810

Territory of Montana

13 Stat. 85

13 Stat. 88

Territory of Wyoming

15 Stat. 178

15 Stat. 180

District of Columbia

16 Stat. 419

16 Stat. 423

Amendment, Territory of Montana

17 Stat. 390

Territory of Oklahoma

26 Stat. 84

Territory of Hawaii

31 Stat. 150

Territory of Alaska

37 Stat. 514

* * * * * * * * * *

"NATIONALS"

In Piqua Bank v. Knoup, 6 Ohio St. 342, 393 (Ohio 1856), that court defined a national government and contrasted it with a federal government: “A national government is a government of the people of a single state or nation, united as a community by what is termed the ‘social compact,’ and possessing complete and perfect supremacy over persons and things, so far as they can be made the lawful objects of civil government.  A federal government is distinguished from a national government by its being the government of a community of independent and sovereign states, united by compact.” Black’s Law Dictionary quotes this case in its definition of national government.  The Government of the United States is a federal government.

But while many may understand this difference between national and federal government, even fewer understand, in reference to human beings, who is a “national” of the United States. This short memo constitutes an introduction to this topic.

In the late 1800s, the United States was beginning to assert power over islands not contiguous to this country.  Then, Hawaii was conquered and made a territory. With time, the same thing happened with the Virgin Islands, the Phillippines, Puerto Rico, Swain's Island, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and similar places. Congress began referring to citizens of those islands as persons owing a duty of allegiance to the United States or obedience to its laws; see 28 Stat. 64, 32 Stat. 694.

Eventually in the first few decades of the 20th century, a name for these people was developed: a national. Examples of this name for these persons can be easily seen from a variety of pages appearing in the U.S. Statutes at Large:

28 Stat. 53

36 Stat. 328

37 Stat. 499

38 Stat. 692

38 Stat. 818

42 Stat. 106

47 Stat. 142

48 Stat. 454

48 Stat. 456

54 Stat. 4

57 Stat. 308

58 Stat. 101

87 Stat. 397

87 Stat. 635

88 Stat. 1444

88 Stat. 2064

89 Stat. 543

90 Stat. 269

90 Stat. 1268

91 Stat. 1212

91 Stat. 1214

92 Stat. 72

92 Stat. 1949

96 Stat. 2483

97 Stat. 661

98 Stat. 2302

99 Stat. 624

100 Stat. 1480

116 Stat. 2874

117 Stat. 2801

117 Stat. 2802

120 Stat. 80

121 Stat. 1743

123 Stat. 53

Inherently, “national” means a citizen of the insular possessions. One definition of this word appears in 24 C.F.R. § 5.504, which states: “National means a person who owes permanent allegiance to the United States, for example, as a result of birth in a United States territory or possession.” In § 871-24.60 (96) of the Iowa Administrative Code, “A national is defined as a person who lives in mandates or trust territories administered by the United States and owes permanent allegiance to the United States. An alien is a person owing allegiance to another country or government.” In Washington Administrative Code § 388-424-0001, this word is defined as “a person who owes permanent allegiance to the U.S. and may enter and work in the U.S. without restriction. The following are the only persons classified as U.S. nationals: (1) Persons born in American Samoa or Swain's Island after December 24, 1952; and (2) Residents of the Northern Mariana Islands who did not elect to become U.S. citizens.”

Often, Congress uses in legislation the phrase “citizen or national of the United States”. When this word appears in this context without definition, it means a citizen of the insular possessions. But just as often when a federal law encompasses a citizen or national, that act may provide a specific definition. Such act may define a U.S. Person, or Citizen, as being a “citizen or national”, and in this event, the defined word encompasses a citizen or national.

It is important for students of the law to "data-mine" the U.S. Statutes at Large, which are posted here. Please download all of these word searchable volumes and start studying.

 

END.


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