Washington Law Review


F. C. Hackman


At common law pecuniary judgments and decrees do not become a lien, in the modern sense of the term, on property of the debtor, so that that effect is a statutory creation. Therefore, whether a judgment is a lien, how made so, to what interest or estate the lien attaches, when the lien commences, how long it endures, and all other particulars must be ascertained from the statutes of the proper jurisdiction. The fixation of the force and effect of judgments and decrees of courts is an attribute of sovereignty. The United States and the several states being sovereignties, each has the power, within constitutional limitations, to declare that judgments of its own courts shall be a lien on the debtor's property within its jurisdiction, to prescribe the procedure therefor and all other particulars; and, of course, no one of these sovereignties can infringe upon this right of the others. So it is within the power of Congress to impart to judgments and decrees of federal courts effect as a lien, wholly and absolutely independent of and without regard to the laws of any state; and, therefore, Congress can provide that such judgments and decrees shall be a lien on the debtor's property in any state notvithstanding that judgments of the courts of the state do not so operate. Indeed, Congress can, if it desires, give to judgments of federal courts consequences uniform throughout the United States.

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