170 U.S. 182
PEOPLE OF ILLINOIS ex rel. AKIN, Attorney General (two cases).
Nos. 586 and 601.
April 18, 1898
Charles S. Thornton, for plaintiff in error.
Geo. W. Smith, E. C. Akin, Frank P. Blair, and Murry Nelson, Jr., for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice HARLAN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.
The attorney general of Illinois filed in the supreme court of Illinois, at its June term, 1897, an original petition against Joseph Kipley, superintendent of police of the city of Chicago, and Adolph Kraus, Dudley Winston, and Hempstead Washburne, commissioners appointed under the act of the legislature of Illinois in force on and after March 20, 1895, entitled 'An act to regulate the civil service of cities.' [170 U.S. 182, 183] The application for leave to file the petition was accompanied by a suggestion upon the part of the attorney general that the case involved an interpretation of the above act.
The prayer of the petition was that a writ of mandamus issue, commanding Kipley, as superintendent of police of Chicago, to notify the civil service commissioners of all vacancies existing in the positions of assistant superintendent of police, inspectors of police, and captains of police in the city of Chicago, and commanding the civil service commissioners to submit to Kipley, as superintendent of police, the names of not more than three applicants for promotion for each vacancy from the grade next below that in which such vacancy or vacancies exist, and that the petitioner have such other or further relief as the nature of the case required.
Kipley filed a separate answer, in which he insisted that he had acted in all respects in conformity with law. He also averred that although the act regulating the civil service of cities was passed and approved substantially as stated in the petition, and was afterwards submitted to a vote of the electors of Chicago, and adopted by a large majority of votes, it was 'unconstitutional and void,' in that it purported to confer judicial powers and authority to make and enforce judgments and decisions of a nonjudicial body, described and set forth in the act as the 'Civil Service Commission.'
Subsequently, June 28, 1897, the city council of Chicago passed an ordinance designating certain public officers who should be selected by the mayor with the concurrence of the council. Kipley, July 10, 1897, filed a plea setting forth this ordinance, and alleging, in relation to the appointment by the civil service commissioners of certain subordinate police officers of the city, that they 'have been, if they ever were within the same, wholly taken away from and removed out of the control, jurisdiction, and power of the said civil service commissioners, so that such matters are now expressly excepted, by its very terms from the force and effect of said civil service act.'
On the 7th day of October, 1897, Kipley asked leave of the [170 U.S. 182, 184] court to withdraw his plea, and also to amend his answer so as to embody therein averments to the effect that the relator was not entitled to a writ of mandamus, and that the court had no jurisdiction or power to grant the same, because the said civil service act of March 20, 1895, was null and void, and contrary to the constitution of the state of Illinois and the constitution of the United States, in that:
Kipley also asked leave to file 'a supplemental mental answer,' averring that since the filing of his original answer the city council had passed the above ordinance of June 28, 1897.
The motions for leave to withdraw the plea, to amend the answer, and to file a supplemental as wer, were severally denied.
On a subsequent day of the term, Kipley entered a motion to discharge the rule requiring the respondents to answer the petition, and to quash all the proceedings that had been taken; assigning as reason therefor that the civil service act of March 20, 1895, was contrary to the constitution of Illinois and the constitution of the United States, upon certain specified grounds. They were the same as those specified in the [170 U.S. 182, 186] above motion for leave to amend the answer. That motion was also denied.
On the 22d day of December, 1897, the supreme court of Illinois rendered its final judgment, granting the relief asked in the petition for mandamus.
The final order of the court was that a writ of mandamus issue, commanding Kipley, superintendent of police of Chicago, to notify the civil service commissioners of all vacancies existing in the positions of assistant superintendent of police, inspectors of police, and captains of police in that city, and the civil service commissioners to submit to him, as such superintendent of police, the names of not more than three applicants for promotion for each vacancy from the next grade below that in which such vacancy or vacancies existed.
Kipley, having given previous notice thereof, filed a petition for rehearing on the 8th day of January, 1898; but, before that petition was disposed of, he sued out a writ of error to this court. That constitutes case No. 586. The rehearing having been denied, he sued out another writ of error, and that constitutes case No. 601. The citation in each case was signed by the chief justice of the state court. The cases, on motion, were consolidated in this court, and are before us on a motion to dismiss each writ of error for want of jurisdiction.
We are of opinion that this court is without jurisdiction to review the final judgment of the supreme court of Illinois in these cases. The answer makes no reference whatever to the constitution or laws of the United States. It is true that it avers that the Illinois civil service act was 'unconstitutional and void.' But when the jurisdiction of this court is invoked for the protection, against the final judgment of the highest court of a state, of some title, right, privilege, or immunity secured by the constitution or laws of the United States, it must appear, expressly or by necessary intendment, from the record, that such right, title, privilege, or immunity was 'specially set up or claimed' under such constitution or laws. Rev. St. p. 709. Our jurisdiction cannot arise in such case from inference, but only from averments so distinct and positive as to place it beyond question that the party bringing [170 U.S. 182, 187] the case up intended to assert a federal right. Oxley Stave Co. v. Butler Co., 166 U.S. 648 , 17 Sup. Ct. 708; Levy v. Superior Court, 167 U.S. 175, 177 , 17 S. Sup. Ct. 769. The averment in the answer that the statute of Illinois was unconstitutional and void must be taken as intended to apply to the constitution of that state, and not to the constitution of the United States. In Miller v. Railroad Co., 168 U.S. 131, 134 , 18 S. Sup. Ct. 34, this court, speaking by the chief justice, said: 'We have no jurisdiction on a writ of error to a state court to declare a state law void on account of its collision with a state constitution; and it was long ago held that, where it was objected in the state courts that an act of the state was 'unconstitutional and void,' the objection was properly construed in those courts as raising the question whether the state legislature had the power, under the state constitution, to pass the act, and not as having reference to any repugnance to the constitution of the United States. Porter v Foley, 24 How. 415.'
It is manifest that, when the answer was drawn, neither the defendant, Kipley, nor the learned counsel representing him, intended to raise any question of a federal nature. We cannot suppose that it occurred to either of them at that time that the civil service act of Illinois was repugnant to the constitution of the United States.
Nor was any question of a federal character raised, or intended to be raised, by the plea which brought before the court the city ordinance of June 28, 1897.
It is, however, said that the motion for leave to amend the answer did specially set up and claim that the Illinois civil service act violated certain rights, privileges, and immunities belonging to the plaintiff in error under the constitution of the United States. But, as the supreme court of Illinois did not allow the proposed amendment of the answer, the questions suggested by the amendment did not arise for determination. To the action of the court in disallowing the amendment, no exception was taken. The grounds upon which these motions were denied appear from the opinion of the court, as follows: 'By this motion respondent, Kipley, asks-First, for leave to withdraw his plea; second, to file an amended answer; and, [170 U.S. 182, 188] third, to file a supplemental answer. Nothing more is before us than the bare motion. No showing has been made, nor reasons filed, in support of the motion; and we are unable to say whether the motion should be allowed or not, and it must therefore be overruled.' People v. Kipley, 167 Ill. 638, 48 N. E. 688. This action of the state court does not raise a federal question which this court can examine. The suggestion that the federal questions which would have been raised if the answer had been amended as proposed should be considered upon their merits, precisely as they might have been if the motion to amend had been allowed, cannot be entertained for a moment. It was in the discretion of the court to deny the motion to amend, when no reasons were assigned for its allowance, and to hold the parties to the issues made by the original petition and answer; and there is nothing in the record justifying the conclusion that its discretion in that regard was exercised with the intent or so as to deprive the defendant either of any right or immunity to which he was entitled under the constitution or laws of the United States, or of the privilege of setting up or claiming in due time, and in proper form, any such right or immunity.
It may be observed that the opinion of the state court delivered upon final hearing contains nothing to show that any federal question was considered or determined. The general subject to which the attention of the court was directed is shown by the following extract from its opinion, delivered by Mr. Justice Magruder: 'The evils sought to be remedied by legislation of this character are well known and well understood. These evils are such as grow out of what is generally called the 'spoils system.' ... The foundation principles of the act are that appointments to municipal offices or employments must be made according to merit and fitness, to be ascertained by competitive examinations, free to all, and that promotions from lower to higher grades in the public service must be made upon the basis of merit.' People v. Kipley, 171 Ill. 44-93, 49 N. E. 229. The validity of the enactment in question was considered by that court with reference only to the state constitution. [170 U.S. 182, 189] In respect of the motion to discharge the rule and all proceedings against the respondents, it need only be said that it could have been denied upon the ground that the questions sought to be raised by it might more properly arise upon demurrer, plea, or answer. Its denial did not have the effect to bring any federal question into the record to be determined. It may also be observed that no exception was taken to the action of the state court in relation to this motion.
This court having no jurisdiction to reexamine the final judgments of the state court in these cases, the motion to dismiss the writs of error is sustained.
Mr. Justice WHITE dissents.