« PreviousContinue »
not limited to tide waters, but extends to all public navigable lakes and rivers, where commerce is carried on between different states or with a foreign nation. Propeller Genessee Chief v. Fitzhugh, 12 Howard, 443.
1. The constitution, with regard to the appointment and commissioning of officers by the president, seems to contemplate three distinct operations: 1. The nomination; this is the sole act of the president and is completely voluntary. 2. The appointment; this is also the act of the president though it can only be performed by and with the advice and consent of the senate. 3. The commission; to grant a commission to a person appointed might perhaps be deemed a duty enjoined by the constitution. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch, 137. The act of appointing and commissioning are distinct acts. Id.
1. A state has authority to pass bankrupt laws which do not conflict with any act of congress to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy, nor impair the obligation of contracts. Sturges v. Crowningshield, 4 Wheat. 122.
BILLS OF CREDIT.
1. The act of Missouri, passed July 27, 1821, “for the establishment of loan offices," was unconstitutional and void. Craig & Moore v. The State of Missouri, 4 Peters, 410; Byrne v. State of Missouri, 8 Peters, 40.
2. To constitute a "bill of credit" within the constitution, it must be issued by the sovereign power, containing a pledge of its faith, and designed to circulate as money. Briscoe v. The Bank of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 11 Peters, 313.
3. The constitution considers the emission of bills of credit and the enactment of tender laws, as distinct operations independent of each other. Both are forbidden. Craig v. State of Missouri, 4 Peters, 410.
4. The bills of a banking corporation, which has corporate property, are not bills of credit within the meaning of the constitution, although the state which created the bank is the only stockholder, and pledges its faith for the ultimate redemption of the bills. Darrington v. The Bank of Alabama, 13 Howard, 12.
1. A judgment in personam against a steamboat company for the loss of specie carried in their boat by one of the persons called "express carriers," and lost by fire in Long Island Sound, affirmed. New Jersey Steam Navigation Company v. Merchants Bank, 6 Howard, 344.
CONSTITUTIONALITY OF LAWS.
1. If a legislative act oppugns a constitutional principle the former must give way, and be rejected on the score of repugnancy, and it is the duty of the court to declare the act null and void. Vanhorne v. Dorrance, 2 Dall. 309.
2. It is contrary to the letter and spirit of the constitution to divest one citizen of his right and vest it in another without full compensation, and if the legislature may do so upon full indemnification, it cannot of itself constitutionally determine the amount of the compensa. tion. Id.
3. If the legislature pass a law within the scope of their constitutional power, the court cannot pronounce it void merely because it is, in their judgment, contrary to the principles of natural justice. Calder et ux. v. Bull et ux. 3 Dall. 386.
4. A court cannot sustain a suit founded on the allegation that an act is a nullity in conse quence of the impure motives which influenced certain members of the legislature which passed the act. Fletcher v. Peck, 6 Cranch, 131.
5. The question whether a law be void for its repugnancy to the constitution, ought seldom if ever be decided in the affirmative in a doubtful case. Id. 128.
6. The acts of Kentucky of February 27, 1797, and January 31, 1812, concerning occupying claimants of land, are in conflict with the constitution of the United States being in violation of the compact between Virginia and Kentucky. Green v. Biddle, 8 Wheat. 1.
7. A law may be unconstitutional and void in relation to particular cases, and yet valid in its application to other cases within the scope of its provisions. Golden v. Prince, 3 Wash.
C. C. R. 313.
8. Congress cannot by law assign the judicial department any duties but such as are of a judicial character. 2 Dall. 409.
9. An act of congress giving to the United States a preference over all other creditors, in all cases, is constitutional and valid. United States v. Fisher et al., 4 Cranch, 358.
1. A contemporary exposition of the constitution practised and acquiesced in for a period of years, fixes the construction, and the court will not shake or control it. Stuart v. Laird, 1 Cranch, 299.
2. The supreme court in construing the constitution as to the grants of powers to the United States, and the restrictions upon the states, has ever held, that an exception of any particular case presupposes that those which are not excepted are embraced within the grant of prohibition, and where no exception is made in terms, none will be made by mere implication or construction. The State of Rhode Island v. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 12 Peters, 657.
3. The constitution of the United States was ordained and established, not by the United States in their sovereign capacities, but as the preamble declares, by the people of the United States. Martin v. Hunter, 1 Wheat. 324.
4. The government of the United States can claim no powers which are not granted to it by the constitution, either expressly or by necessary implication. Id.
5. The constitution, like every other grant, is to have a reasonable construction according to the import of its terms; the words are to be taken in their natural and obvious sense, and not in a sense either unreasonably restricted or enlarged. Id.
6. It is a rule of construction that exceptions from a power mark its extent. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 191.
7. Perhaps the safest rule of interpretation will be found to be, to look to the nature and objects of the particular powers, duties and rights, with all the light and aid of cotemporary history, and to give to the words of each just such operation and force, consistent with their legitimate meaning, as to fairly secure and attain the ends proposed. Prigg v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 16 Peters, 610.
8. The judiciary act of 1789, section 34, declaring that the laws of the several states shall be regarded as rules of decision in trials at common law in the courts of the United States, meant only to include civil cases at common law, and not criminal offenses against the United States. United States v. Reid et al. 12 Howard, 361.
9. The law by which the admissibility of testimony in criminal cases must be determined, is the law of the state as it was when the courts of the United States were established by the judiciary act of 1789. Id.
1. An act of the legislature declaring that certain lands which should be purchased for the Indians should not thereafter be subject to any tax, constitutes a contract which could not be rescinded by any other legislative act. New Jersey v. Wilson, 7 Cranch, 164.
2. Corporations chartered in one state are permitted to make contracts in another by the law of comity. The Bank of Augusta v. Earle, 13 Peters, 519.
3. To release the future acquisitions of a debtor from liability to a contract, impairs its obligation. Sturges v. Crowningshield, 4 Wheat. 198.
4. A state bankrupt or insolvent law, which not only liberates the person of the debtor, but discharges him from all liability for the debt, so far as it attempts to discharge the contract, is repugnant to the constitution of the United States, and it makes no difference whether the law passed before or after the debt was contracted. McMillan v. McNiel, 4 Wheat. 209; also Ogden v. Sanders, 12 Wheat. 213; also 5 Wheat. 131.
5. The constitution of the United States did not commence its operation until the first Wednesday of March, 1789, and the provision relative to laws impairing the obligation of contracts, does not extend to a law enacted before that day. Owing v. Speed et al. 5 Wheat. 420. 6. Any change which a law makes in the terms of a contract impairs its obligation. Green et al. v. Biddle, 8 Wheat. 1.
7. A compact between two states, is a contract within that clause of the constitution which prohibits states from passing laws impairing the obligation of contracts. Id.
8. The act of New Hampshire which allows to tenants the value of improvements, etc. on recoveries against them, is in conflict with the constitution of the United States. Society for the Propagation, etc. v. Wheeler et al. 2 Gallis, 105.
9. A law of a state which declares that a debtor, by delivering up his property for the benefit of his creditors, shall be forever discharged from the payment of his debts due or contracted before the passage of the law, whether the creditor do any act or not in aid of the law, impairs the obligation of the contract. Golden v. Prince, 3 Wash. C. C. R. 313.
10. A law which authorizes the discharge of a contract by a smaller sum, or at a different time, or in a different manner, than the parties have stipulated, impairs its obligations. Id. 11. There is nothing in the constitution of the United States which forbids congress to pass laws violating the obligation of contracts, though such power is denied to the states individually. Evans v. Eaton, 1 Peters, C. C. R. 322.
12. There is no part of the constitution which applies to a state law, which divests rights, vested by law in an individual, provided, its effect be not to impair the obligation of the contract. Satterlee v. Mathewson, 2 Peters, 413.
13. A state law, passed after the execution of a mortgage, which declares that the equitable estate of the mortgagor shall not be extinguished for twelve months after a sale under a decree in chancery, and which prevents any sale unless two-thirds of the amount at which the
property has been valued by appraisers, shall be bid therefor, is within the clause of the constitution which prohibits states from impairing the obligation of contracts. Bronson &. Kinzie, et al. 1 Howard, 311.
14. A law which, in its operation, amounts to a denial or obstruction of the rights accruing by a contract, though professing to act only on the remedy, is directly obnoxious to the prohibition of the constitution. McCraken v. Hayward, 2 Howard, 612.
15. A law providing that a sale shall not be made of property under execution unless it will bring two-thirds of its valuation, according to the opinion of three householders, is un
16. A contract made in New York is not affected by a discharge of the debtor under the insolvent laws of Maryland, where the debtor resided. Cook v. Moffat, 5 Howard. 295. On same subject, see Planters' Bank v. Sharp, 6 Howard, 301; also, West River Bridge Co. v. Dix et al. 6 Howard, 507.
17. An act lessening the salary of an officer after he has entered upon his term of office, does not impair a contract between the state and officer, within the meaning of the constitu tion of the United States. Butler et al. v. Pennsylvania, 10 Howard, 402.
18. On this subject see Richmond Railroad Co. v. The Louisa Railroad Co. 13 Howard, 71. 19. Congress has sanctioned the compact between Virginia and Kentucky, viz: that the use and navigation of the river Ohio shall be free and common to the citizens of the United States. This compact can be enforced by the United States Courts. Pennsylvania v. Wheeling, 13 Howard, 519.
1. The power to regulate commerce is exclusively vested in congress, and no part of it can be exercised by a state. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 186.
2. The several acts of the state of New York granting to Livingston and Fulton the exclu sive right of navigating the waters within the jurisdiction of that state, are in collision with the law and constitution of the United States. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 209.
3. That clause of the constitution which declares that congress shall have power to regulate commerce, etc., comprehends navigation also. Id. 189.
4. The power to regulate commerce extends to every species of commercial intercourse between the United States and foreign nations, and among the several states. Id. 193.
5. It does not comprehend that commerce which is completely internal in a state, and which does not affect other states. Id. 194.
6. It extends as well to vessels employed in carrying passengers, as to those employed in transporting property. Id. 215.
7. The power of laying duties on imports is considered in the constitution as a branch of the taxing power, and not of the power to regulate commerce. Id. 201.
8. An act of a state legislature, requiring all importers of foreign goods by the bale, etc., and other persons selling the same by wholesale, bale, etc., to take out a license for which they shall pay fifty dollars, and subjecting them to certain penalties, etc., in case of neglect to take out such license, is repugnant to the constitution of the United States. Brown et al. e. State of Maryland, 12 Wheat. 419.
9. Under the power to regulate commerce, congress can exclude, either partially or wholly, any subject falling within the legitimate sphere of commercial regulation. United States v. Marigold, 9 Howard, 560.
CAPTURES ON LAND AND WATER.
1. The power of making rules concerning captures on land and water, is not confined to captures which are extra-territorial, and is an express grant to congress of the power of con fiscating an enemy's property found within the territory at the declaration of war, as an inde pendent substantive power. Brown v. The United States, 8 Cranch, 110.
EX POST FACTO LAWS.
1. The prohibition in the federal constitution of ex post facto laws, extends to penal statutes only, and not to cases affecting only the civil rights of individuals. Calder et ux. v. Bull et ux. 3 Dall. 386.
2. A resolution or law of a state court setting aside a decree of a court, and granting a new trial to be had before the same court, is not void under the constitution as an ex post facto law. Id.
3. The words and intent of the ex post facto prohibition, embraces: 1. Every law that makes an action done before the framing of the law, and which was innocent when done, criminal, and punishes such action. 2. Every law that aggrivates a crime, or makes it greater than when it was committed. 3. Every law that changes the punishment and inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime when committed. 4. Every law that alters the legal rules of evidence, and receives less or different testimony than the law required at the time of the commission of the offense, in order to convict the offender. Id.
4. A law merely divesting antecedent vested rights of property, where there is no contract,
is not inconsistent with the constitution of the United States. A retrospective law is within the constitutional powers of the states. Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad v. Nesbit et al. 10 Howard, 395.
FUGITIVES FROM LABOR, ETC.
1. The owner of a fugitive slave has the same right to seize and take him in a state to which he has escaped or fled, that he had in the state from which he escaped. Prigg v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 16 Peters, 539.
2. The second section, article fourth of the constitution, does not extend to a slave voluntarily carried by his master into another state, and there left; but to slaves escaping from one state into another. Butler v. Hopper, 1 Wash. C. C. R. 499.
3. Under the act
of February 12, 1793, respecting fugitives, etc., under a charge for harboring and concealing, the notice need not be in writing by the claimant or his agent, but may be given verbally. Jones v. Van Zandt, 5 Howard, 215.
4. Clear proof of the knowledge of the defendant that he knew such person was a slave, etc., is sufficient to charge him with notice. Id.
5. An overt act, so marked in its character as to show an intention to elude the vigilance of the master, and calculated to obtain such object, is a harboring of the fugitive within the statute. Id.
6. Said act is constitutional and is not repugnant to the ordinance of 1787. Id.
1. All the courts of the United States have power to issue this writ. Ex parte Bollman, 4 Cranch, 75; Ex parte Watkins, 7 Peters, 568; Ex parte Burford, 3 Cranch, 448; Ex parte Kearney, 7 Wheat. 38; United States v. Hamilton, 3 Dall. 17; Ex parte Milburn, 9 Peters, 704; Ex parte Dorr, 3 Howard, 103.
1. The right of trial by jury is a fundamental law, made sacred by the constitution, and cannot be legislated away. 2 Dall. 309.
2. The legislature of Iowa passed a law directing a court to decide matters of fact without the intervention of a jury. This was inconsistent with the constitution of the United States. Webster v. Reid, 11 Howard, 437.
1. The words of the constitution declaring that "the judicial power shall extend to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction," must be taken to refer to the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of England. United States v. McGill, 4 Dall. 426.
2. The question whether the legality of the acts of the heads of departments be examinable by courts of justice, must always depend on the nature of the act. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch, 137.
3. In an action of ejectment between two citizens of the state where the lands lie, if the defendant set up an outstanding title in a British subject, which he contends is protected by treaty, and the highest state court decides against the title thus set up, it is not a case in which a writ of error lies to the supreme court of the United States. This is not a case arising under the treaty, and the words of the judiciary act must be restrained by those of the constitution. Owing v. Norwood's Lessee, 5 Cranch, 344.
4. The appellate powers of the supreme court are given by the constitution, but they are limited and regulated by the acts of congress. Durousseau v. The United States, 6 Cranch, 307. 5. In what cases the supreme court of the United States has appellate jurisdiction from the decision of the highest court of a state. Cohens v. Virginia, 6 Wheat. 264.
6. A case of law or equity arises under the constitution, or a law of the United States, whenever its correct decision depends upon the construction of either. Id. 379.
7. The judicial power of every well constituted government must be co-extensive with the legislative, and capable of deciding every judicial question growing out of the constitution and laws. Id.
8. Where the words of the constitution confer only appellate jurisdiction upon the supreme court, original jurisdiction is clearly not granted; but where the words admit of appellate jurisdiction, the power to take cognizance of the suit originally, does not necessarily negative the power to decide upon it on an appeal, if it may originate in a different court. Id. 397; also, Osborn et al. v. Bank of the U. S., 9 Wheat. 738.
9. In every case to which the judicial power extends, and in which original jurisdiction is not expressly given, that power shall be exercised in the appellate, and only in the appellate form. Id.
10. When the subject is presented to the court by a party who asserts his rights in the form prescribed by law, it then becomes a case. Osborn et al. v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat.
11. A corporation created by, and transacting business in, a state, is to be deemed an inhab
itant of the state, capable of being treated as a citizen for all purposes of suing and being sued. Louisville, Cincinnati & Charleston Railroad Co. v. Letson, 2 Howard, 497.
12. The act of congress of February 26, 1845, extending the jurisdiction of the district courts to certain cases on the lakes and navigable waters connecting the same, is consistent with the constitution of the United States. Propeller Genessee Chief v. Fitzhugh et al., 12 Howard,
13. The courts of the United States under the constitution have equity jurisdiction. Neves et al. v. Scott, 13 Howard, 268.
14. The federal courts have no jurisdiction of common law offenses, and there is no abstract, pervading principle of the common law of the Union, under which they can take jurisdiction. Pennsylvania v. Wheeling Bridge, 13 Howard, 519.
15. Where relief can be given by the English chancery, similar relief may be given by the courts of the Union. Id.
1. One legislature, so far as respects general legislation, is competent to repeal any act which a former legislature was competent to pass; and one legislature cannot abridge the powers of a succeeding legislature. But if an act be done under a law, a succeeding legislature cannot undo it. Fletcher v. Peck, 6 Cranch, 135.
2. When a law is in its nature a contract, and absolute rights have vested under that contract, a repeal of the law cannot divest those rights. Id.
3. A legislative grant and confirmation vests an indefeasible, irrevocable title, is not revo cable in its own nature, or held only durante bene placito. Terret et al. v. Taylor et al., 9 Cranch, 50.
4. The legislature cannot repeal statutes creating private corporations, or confirming to them property already acquired under the faith of previous laws, and by such repeal vest the prop erty exclusively in the state, or dispose of the same to such purposes as they may please, without the consent or default of the corporation. Id.
1. The authority given to the supreme court by the act establishing the judiciary of the United States, to issue writs of mandamus to public officers, is not warranted by the constitu tion. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch, 176.
2. A mandamus against the secretary of the navy will not lie at the instance of an officer to enforce the payment of his pay. Brashear v. Mason, 6 Howard, 92.
1. When martial law has been declared in a state, an officer may lawfully arrest any one who he has reason to believe is engaged in the insurrection, or order a house to be forcibly entered. Luther v. Borden, 7 Howard, 1.
1. Private property may be taken by a military commander to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy, or for the purpose of converting it to the use of the public, if the danger is immediate and impending, and the necessity urgent. Mitchell v. Harmony, 13
2. But the officer cannot take possession of private property for the purpose of insuring the success of a distant expedition upon which he is about to march. Id.
1. The individual states have a constitutional right to pass naturalization laws; provided, they do not contravene the rule established by the authority of the Union. Collett v. Collett,
2 Dall. 294. See United States v. Villatto, id. 370.
2. The power of naturalization is exclusively in congress. Chirac v. Chirac, 2 Wheat, 259; Golden v. Prince, 3 Wash. C. C. R. 313.
1. Acts of 1838 and 1843, for better security of lives of, construed. Warring v. Clark, 5 Howard, 441.
2. The acts of New York, passed February, 1824, concerning passengers, constitutional. City of New York v. Miln, 11 Peters, 103.
3. The statutes of New York and Massachusetts, imposing taxes upon riving in the ports of those states, declared to be contrary to the constitution. Passenger cases, 7 Howard, 283.
1. Laws of Pennsylvania and other states concerning, construed. Cooley v. Board of War
dens, 12 Howard, 299.