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U.S. Supreme Court

Porto Rico v. Rosaly y Castillo, 227 U.S. 270 (1913)

Porto Rico v. Rosaly y Castillo

No. 145

Submitted January 24, 1913

Decided February 24, 1913

227 U.S. 270


The government of Porto Rico cannot be sued without its consent.

The government of Porto Rico, as established by the Organic Act, with some possible exceptions, comes within the general rule exempting a government sovereign in its attributes.

That government of Porto Rico, as established by the Organic Act of April 12, 1900, is a strong likeness of that established for Hawaii which has immunity from suit. Kawananakoa v. Polyblank, 205 U. S. 349.

The provision in § 7 of the Organic Act of Porto Rico that the people of Porto Rico shall have power to sue and be sued is not to be construed as destroying the grant of sovereignty given by the act itself.

Like words may have one significance in one context and a different signification in another.

In construing an organic act of a territory, this Court will consider that Congress intended to create a government conforming to the American system of divided powers -- legislative, executive and judicial -- and did not intend to give to any one branch of that government power by which the government itself so created could be destroyed.

The words "to sue and be sued" as used in § 7 of the Organic Act of Porto Rico, when construed in connection with the grant of governmental powers therein contained, amount only to a recognition of a liability to be sued in case of consent duly given.

16 P.R. 481 reversed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 227 U. S. 271

The facts, which involve the construction of § 7 of the Organic Act of Porto Rico and whether the government of that Island can be sued without its consent, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 227 U. S. 273

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