In answering the Republican claim that jurisdiction over the murder committed by Thomas Nash (aka Jonathan Robbins) against a foreign citizen on a British ship was established by arraignments in a federal court in Trenton, Congressman John Marshall argued:
It has also been contended that the question of jurisdiction was decided at Trenton, by receiving indictments against persons there arraigned for the same offence, and by retaining them for trial after the return of the habeas corpus.
Every person in the slightest degree acquainted with judicial proceedings, knows that an indictment is no evidence of jurisdiction; and that, in criminal cases, the question of jurisdiction will seldom be made but by arrest of judgment after conviction.
The proceedings, after the return of the habeas corpus, only prove that the case was not such a case as to induce the Judge immediately to decide against his jurisdiction. The question was not free from doubt, and, therefore, might very properly be postponed until its decision should become necessary.