For those who might possibly misinterpret our view here, we reaffirm the high regard which we have for our brother Judges in the Pennsylvania Courts. However, the consequences of recognizing such jurisdiction would be extremely far-reaching. This Court does not feel that it is here presented with a situation which calls for our 'pioneering' in such a delicate area.
Several courts have expressly denied the jurisdiction of a State court to enjoin alleged illegal or unauthorized action threatened by a Federal officer. Ex parte Shockley, supra; In re Turner, C.C.S.D.Iowa 1902, 119 F. 231; Shanks Village Committee, etc. v. Cary, 3 Cir., 1952, 197 F.2d 212, 217 (dictum of Biggs, C.J.); People ex rel. Brewer v. Kidd, 1871, 23 Mich. 440; Parry v. Delaney, 1941, 310 Mass. 107, 37 N.E.2d 249. See also Warren, Federal and State Court Interference, 43 Harv.L.Rev. 345, at 358 (1930), in which the author concludes that 'State courts possess no power to enjoin a Federal officer.'
There are at least two cases in which the argument that Pennsylvania has jurisdiction over a Federal officer acting in his official capacity has been rejected. The first is Passmore Williamson's Case, 1885, 26 Pa. 9. There the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus for a man held in prison under a contempt order issuing out of the Federal District Court. The Court stated, 'Those tribunals belong to a different judicial system from ours. They administer a different code of laws and are responsible to a different sovereign. The District Court of the United States is as independent of us as we are of it -- as independent as the Supreme Court of the United States is of either.' 26 Pa. 9, at page 17.
The second case is United States v. Owlett, D.C.M.D.Pa.1936, 15 F.Supp. 736, 741. This involved a bill in equity instituted by the United States of America to enjoin the respondents, an investigating committee created by a resolution of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from conducting any investigation into the organization, administration and functioning of the Works Progress Administration, a Federal agency in operation in Pennsylvania. The Court granted the injunction, stating:
'The investigation by the respondents is an interference with the proper governmental function of the United States of America. The complete immunity of a federal agency from state interference is well established. (Emphasis added). (citations). This principal of immunity from state control or interference applies to official papers and records of the United States of America. (citations); and prevents a state from obstructing or interfering with employees of the United States of America in the discharge of their official duties, whether or not there is any express statutory provision for immunity.'
Actually that case turned on a lack of legislative power, but the argument obviously would apply with equal force to the judicial branch of the State government.
Finally, in the case of Larson v. Domestic & Foreign Commerce Corp., 1949, 337 U.S. 682, 69 S. Ct. 1457, 93 L. Ed. 1628, the Supreme Court had occasion to make certain observations as to the circumstances under which an official of the United States may be enjoined. The Court concluded that the only circumstances which would allow such an injunction is where the official action 'is not within the officer's statutory powers or if within those powers, only if the powers or their exercise in the particular case, are constitutionally void.' 337 U.S. at page 702, 69 S. Ct. at page 1467. Every case cited by plaintiff (with one exception hereafter discussed), or uncovered by our independent research, which lends the least support to the plaintiff's position, falls squarely within one of these two categories. The present case clearly does not.
The case on which plaintiff relies most heavily to sustain this action and the only one which does not appear to fall within the rule of the Larson case, supra, is Houston v. Ormes, 1920, 252 U.S. 469, 40 S. Ct. 369, 64 L. Ed. 667. In that case the Supreme Court held that a bill in equity in the District of Columbia would lie against the Secretary of the Treasury to establish an equitable lien for attorney's fees upon a fund in the United States Treasury, appropriated by Congress for payment to a specified person. Despite objections on jurisdictional grounds, the Court upheld the suit. However, there appears to be a clear distinction in that case (which is the only one of its kind) and the present one. The decision in the Houston case was specifically predicated upon the right of the District Court for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus to compel the payment of the fund in question to the person entitled to it under the Act of Congress. Cox v. United States, 1869, 9 Wall. 298, 19 L. Ed. 579. The parties in that suit conceded the fact that the District of Columbia Court had such jurisdiction. No such jurisdiction exists in the Courts of Pennsylvania. See citations supra.
In the face of the foregoing authority this Court feels constrained to dismiss this action for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter. We need make no disposition of the other serious problems involved. However, the plaintiff is not without a remedy. The facts disclose that the defendant, Manu-Mine Research and Development Company, is at present under an injunctive order of the Common Pleas Court of Dauphin County freezing its assets. Such an order will preclude the defendants from improperly disposing of any assets, including any possible tax refund. If the injunction in that Court is not broad enough to protect this asset it can undoubtedly obtain any necessary relief there.
One final problem remains for disposition. As set forth above, plaintiff here, in addition to its action against the Director of Internal Revenue, has also asked for equitable relief respecting the other two defendants. Counsel for the plaintiff in his brief has asked that should this Court determine that there was no jurisdiction over the subject matter as respects the Director of Internal Revenue to exercise its discretion under the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441(c) and remand the case to the State Court for disposition of its claim against Manu-Mine Research and Development Company and Seaboard Surety Company. Therefore, the order to be entered concurrently herewith will, in addition to dismissing the action as against the Director of Internal Revenue, remand the case to the State Court for disposition of the action as against Manu-Mine Research and Development Company and Seaboard Surety Company.