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Opinion of the Court.



What obstacle was in the way of legislation to supply the omission to make provision for such cases in the original act? If it comes within the category of retrospective legislation, as has been argued, we find nothing in the Constitution limiting the power of Congress to amend or correct omissions in previous acts. It is well settled that where there is no direct constitutional prohibition, a State may pass retrospective laws, such as, in their operation, may affect suits pending, and give to a party a remedy which he did not previously possess, or modify an existing remedy, or remove an impediment in the way of legal proceedings.

Such acts are of a remedial nature, and are the peculiar subject of legislation. They are not liable to the imputation of being assumptions of judicial power.”

The power of a legislature to pass laws giving validity to past deeds which were before ineffectual is well settled. Thus in Watson v. Mercer, 8 Pet. 100, the title to land in controversy was originally in Margaret Mercer, the wife of James Mercer. For the purpose of transferring the title to the husband, they conveyed to a third person, who immediately conveyed to James Mercer. The deed of Mercer and wife bore date of May 30, 1785. It was fatally defective as to the wife, in not baving been acknowledged by her in conformity with the provisions of the statute of Pennsylvania of 1770, touching the conveyance of real estate by femmes covert. She died without issue. James Mercer died leaving children by a former marriage. After the death of both parties, her heirs sued his heirs in ejectment for the premises, and recovered. The Supreme Court of the State affirmed the judgment. In 1826 the legislature passed an act which cured the defective acknowledgment of Margaret Mercer, and gave the same validity to the deed as if it had been well executed originally on her part. The heirs of James Mercer thereupon sued her heirs and recovered back the same premises. This judgment was also affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State, and that judgment of affirmance was affirmed by this court.

Watson v. Mercer was cited and followed by this court in Randall v. Kreiger, 23 Wall. 137, where it was held that it was


Opinion of the Court.

competent for the legislature to validate a defective power of attorney to convey land.

Similar principles were recognized in Terry v. Anderson, 95 U. S. 628; Freeland v. Williams, 131 U. S. 405; Baker's Executors v. Kilgore, 145 U. S. 487; Louisiana v. New Orleans, 109 U. S. 285. The case of Green v. Abraham, 43 Ark. 420, was cited in the opinion of the Circuit Court of Appeals. There a mortgage improperly acknowledged had been placed of record, which by reason of the defective acknowledgment was not notice to subsequent purchasers or lienors. Afterwards the mortgaged property was attached under a writ against the mortgagor, and thereafter the legislature validated the record of the mortgage. The mortgagee having proceeded in replevin to recover the attached property from one who claimed it under the attachment, it was held by the Supreme Court of Arkansas that the interest of the attaching creditor in the attached property was not vested, but could be, and that it was in fact displaced by the subsequent enactment validating the record of the mortgage.

Without pursuing the subject further, our conclusion is that no property rights of the plaintiffs in error were impaired by the act of February 3, 1897. Their judgment against Blocker remained unaffected, and the lien of the writ of attachment was not destroyed, but continued to hold any surplus that might have remained after the satisfaction of the mortgage liens. They have no just ground in constitutional law to complain of the action of Congress in giving legal effect to the equitable lien of the mortgages.

Approving the careful opinion of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, reported in vol. 105 Fed. Rep. 293, the judgment of that court is


MR. JUSTICE GRay and MR. JUSTICE WHITE took no part in the decision.

See volume 186 for decisions without opinions for the time covered by this volume.


1. The power to exclude or expel aliens is vested in the political depart-

monts of the Government, to be regulated by treaty or by act of Con-
gross, and to be executed by the executive authority according to such
regulations, except so far as the judicial department is authorized by
treaty or by statute, or is required by the Constitution, to intervene.
And this is true of the privilege of transit. Fok Yung Yo v. United

States, 296.
2. By the treaty between the United States and China, of 1894, the priv-

ilege of transit across the territory of the United States could only be
enjoyed subject to such regulations of the Government of the United
States as might be necessary to prevent the privilege from being

abused. Ib.
3. The treaty, in recognizing the privilege and providing that it should con-

tinue, proceeded on the ground of its existence and continuance under
governmental regulations, and no act of Congress was required to carry

it into effect. Ib.
4. Under existing regulations the action of the collector of customs in re-

fusing transit cannot be interfered with by the courts. Ib.
5. Eok Yung Yo ante, 296, followed. Lee Gon Yung v. United States, 306.


Where the decres of a Circuit Court and the order allowing an appeal both

stato that the bill was dismissed for want of jurisdiction, no separate
certificate is necessary, and the appeal may be taken at any time within
two years. Excelsior Pipe Company v. Pacific Bridge Co., 282.


1. The facts and law of this case were so fully and satisfactorily discussed

in the Court of Claims that its opinion might well be adopted as that

of this court. United States v. Borcherling, 223.
2. That court held that the claimant Borcherling was entitled, on the facts

shown, to recover from the United States the sum of seven thousand
and nine hundred dollars, and this court holds that the conclusions of

that court were correct and affirms the judgment. Ib.
3. Section 19 of the act of May 28, 1896, c. 252, providing that “ the terms

of office of all commissioners of the Circuit Courts heretofore appointed
shall expire on the thirtieth day of June, 1897,

and said com-

missioners shall then deposit all the records and other official papers
appertaining to their offices in the office of the clerk of the Circuit
Court, by which they were appointed," not having authorized the fil-
ing of the writings in question, and no provision having been made for
compensating the clerk for the service of receiving them and retaining
them in his custody, the Court of Claims erred in awarding judgment
in favor of the claimant. United States v. Van Duzee, 278.

1. It is within the power of a state legislature to provide for the appoint-

ment of inspectors of mines and the payment of their fees by tho

owners of the mines. St. Louis Coal Company v. Illinois, 203.
2. A law providing for the inspection of coal mines is not unconstitutional

by reason of its limitation to mines where more than five mon aro

employed at any one time. Ib.
3. Where the law provided for an inspection of coal mines at least four

times a year, it was held not to be objectionable by reason of the fact
that a discretion was invested in the inspectors to cause the mines to
be inspected more than four times a year, and as often as they might
deem it necessary and proper.

4. A law providing that the fees for each inspection shall not be less than

six nor more than ten dollars is not rendered unconstitutional by tho
fact that, within these limits, the fees for each inspection are fixed by

the inspector. Ib.
5. The act of Congress, approved June 28, 1898, known as the Curtis Act,

did not operate to deprive the lessors of coal mines in the Choctaw
Nation of royalties due and owing to them for coal mined under valid
leases, prior to that date. Southwestern Coal Company v. McBride, 499.

1. Giving to the statute of Tennessee the same meaning that was given to

it by the Supreme Court of that State, wbich this court is bound to do,
it is held that it violates the interstate commerce clause of the Consti.

tution of the United States. Stockard v. Morgan, 27.
2. All the cases cited in the opinion of the court deny the right of a Stato

to tax people representing owners of property outside the State for the
privilege of soliciting orders within it, as agents of such owners, for

property to be shipped to persons within the State. Ib.
3. Ficklen v. Shelby County Tacing District, 145 U. S. 1, distinguished from
this case.

4. Although a State has general power to tax individuals and property

within its jurisdiction, yet it has no power to tax interstate commerce,

even in the person of a resident of the State. Ib.
5. The seventh section of the act of Pennsylvania of April 27, 1855, is as

follows: “That in all cases where no payment, claim, or demand shall
have been made on account of or for any ground rent, annuity, or other
charge upon real estate for twenty-one years, or no declaration or
acknowledgment of the existence thereof shall have been made within
that period by the owner of the premises, subject to such ground rent,
annuity, or charge, a release or extinguishment thereof shall be pre-
sumed, and such ground rent, annuity, or charge shall thereafter be
irrecoverable: Provided, That the evidence of such payment may be
perpetuated by recording in the recorder of deeds' office of the proper
county the duplicate of any receipt therefor, proved by oath or affirm-
ation to be a true copy of that signed and delivered in the presence of
the payer and witnessed at the time by this deponent, which recorded
duplicate or the exemplification of the record thereof shall be evidence
until disproved; and the evidence of any such claim or demand may
be perpetuated by the record of any judgment recovered for such rent,
annuity, or charge in any court of record, or the transcript therein
filed of any recovery thereof by judgment before any alderman or jus-
tice of the peace, which record and judgment shall be duly indexed:
Provided, That this section shall not go into effect until three years
from the passage of this act." Held, that this was not an act or law
impairing the obligation of contracts within the meaning of the Con-

stitution of the United States. Wilson v. Iseminger, 53.
8. By the act of March 18, 1886, the city of Vicksburg was authorized to

provide for the erection and maintenance of a system of waterworks
and the contract made in accordance with its provision was within the
power of the city to make, and the subsequent legislation, state and
municipal, set forth in the bill, impair the contract rights of the water
company, within the protection of the Constitution of the United
Statos unless the city can point to some inherent want of legal validity

in the contract. Vicksburg Wuterworks Co. v. Vicksburg, 65.
7. It is one of the most valuable features of equity jurisdiction, to antici-

pate and prevent a threatened injury, where the damages would be
insufficient or irreparable; and the exercise of such jurisdiction is for
the benefit of both parties, in disclosing to the defendant that he is
proceeding without warrant of law, and in protecting the complainant
from injuries which, if inflicted, would be wholly destructive of his

rights. Ib.
8. This cause presents a controversy so arising under the laws and Consti.

tution of the United States as to give the Circuit Court jurisdic-

tion. Ib.
9. As the remedies resorted to by independent States for the determination

of controversies raised by collision between them were withdrawn from
the States by the Constitution, a wide range of matters, susceptible of
adjustment, and not purely political in their nature, was made justici-

able by that instrument. Kansas v. Colorado, 125.
10. Where a State on behalf of her citizens and in vindication of her alleged

rights as an individual owner files a bill against another State to obtaiu
relief in respect of being wholly deprived by the direct action of the
latter of the water of a river accustomed to flow through and across her
territory, and the consequent destruction of her property, and of the
property of her citizens and injury to their health and comfort, the

original jurisdiction of this court may be exercised. Ib.
11. If it is a case of circumstances in which a variation between them as

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