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Totten v. United States
, 92 U.S. 105
Case citation is the system used in many countries to identify the decisions in past court cases, either in special series of books called reporters or law reports, or in a 'neutral' form which will identify a decision wherever it was reported...
(1876), was a United States Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...
case in which the court ruled on judicial jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a formally constituted legal body or to a political leader to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters and, by implication, to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility...
Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...
cases. The court deemed an oral contract between a deceased spy and President Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...
was unenforceable because courts cannot hear cases in disputes involving spying contracts, because it might do harm to make public the details of the enterprise and embarrass the government.
This case was later referenced by the court in a similar context in the 2005 case of Tenet v. Doe
Tenet v. Doe, 544 U. S. 1 , was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court ruled unanimously that spies cannot sue the CIA or the United States government to enforce an espionage contract...