Bank of United States v. Deveaux

9 U.S. (5 Cranch) 61 (1809)



The term citizen ought to be understood as it is used in the constitution, and as it is used in other laws. That is, to describe the real persons who come into court, in this case, under their corporate name.


The Bank was created and incorporated under an act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States. In 1805, Georgia passed a law to tax a branch of the Bank that was located in Georgia. When the Bank refused to pay the taxes, the state officials seized deposits to satisfy the tax debt. Bank officers that were residents of Pennsylvania filed an action to recover the deposits. The state officers demurred for want of jurisdiction. The trial court entered a judgment in their favor.


Does the trial court have jurisdiction over the case in controversy?




Although the trial court did not have jurisdiction based on the fact that the case arose over federal law, the Court held that the trial court had jurisdiction based on diversity jurisdiction. The Court reasoned that although the Bank and the state officers may have been citizens of the same state, it was required to determine citizenship based on real persons involved in the case. Because the Bank officers and the state officers were citizens of different states, diversity jurisdiction existed.

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