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board of coinmissioners; and annexes confirm claims approved by the comto the confirmation several conditions, missioners, among which the plaintiff which it is unnecessary to review, be- does not allege his to have been placed. cause the plaintiff does not claim to Congress has reserved to itself the come within the provisions of the act. supervision of the titles reported by
On the 3d of March, 1819, congress its commissioners, and has confirm. passed an act confirming all coinplete ed those which the commissioners grants to land from the Spanish go- have approved, but has passed no vernment, contained in the reports law, withdrawing grants generally for made by the comidissioners appointed lands west of the Perdido from the by the president for the purpose of ad- operation of the 14th section of the act justing titles which had been deemed of 1804, or repealing that section. valid by the commissioners; and also We are of opinion, then, that the all the claims reported as aforesaid, court committed no error in dismissing founded on any order of survey, re- the petition of the plaintiff, and that quete, permission to settle, or any the judgment ought to be affirmed with written evidence of claim derived from costs. the Spanish authorities, which ought This cause caine on to be heard on in the opinion of the commissioners to the transcript of the record from the be confirmed ; and which by the said district court of the United States for · reports appear to be derived from the the eastern district of Louisiana, and Spanish government before the 20th was argued by counsel ; on consideraday of December, 1803, and the land tion whereof, this court is of opinion claimed to have been cultivated or in- that the said district court committed habited on or before that day.
no error in dismissing the petition of Though the order of survey in this the plaiutiffs; therefore it is consicase was granted before the 20th of dered, ordered and adjudged by this December, 1803, the plaintiff does not court, that the judgment of the said bring himself within this act.
district court in this cause be, and the Subsequent acts have passed in same is hereby affirmed with costs. 1820, 1822, and 1826, but they only
The Bank of Kentucky vs. John Wister & al.
In this case the question arose, whe- in the court below, in an action for ther the jurisdiction of the United money had and received, instituted to States courts was taken away by the recover the amount of a deposite made state's being the sole proprietor of the in the bank of the commonwealth of stock of the bank.
Kentucky. Mr. Nicholas, for the plaiptiffs, in- The defendants pleaded to the jurissisted that the state was virtually the diction, on the ground that the state of
party on the record, and that the Kentucky was sole proprietor of the judgment of the court would operate stock of the bank, for which reason it directly on the state in its sovereign was insisted that the suit was virtually capacity.
against the sovereign state. To this Mr. Caswell replied for the defen- plea the plaintiffs demurred, and the dants.
circuit court of Kentucky having deMr. Justice Johnson delivered the cided in favour of its jurisdiction, that opinion of the court, from which the decision is made the first ground of following is extracted, as being all error in the present suit. which relates to the above question. But this court is of opinion that the
The defendants here were plaintiff's question is no longer open here. The
case of the United States Bank vs. the and takes the character which belongs Planters' Bank of Georgia,9 Wheaton, to its associates, and to the business 904, was a much stronger case for the which is to be transacted. Thus, defendants than the present; for there, many states of the union which have the state of Georgia was not only a an interest in banks, are not suable proprietor but a corporator. Here the even in their own courts, yet they state is not a corporator, since by the never exempt the corporation froin terms of the act incorporating this being sued. The state of Georgia, by bank, Kentucky acts of 1820, page 55, giving to the bank the capacity to sue sec. 2, “the president and directors' and be sued, voluntarily strips itself of alone constitute the body corporate, its sovereign character, so far as rethe metaphysical person liable to suit. spects the transactions of the bank, Hence, by the laws of the state itself, it and waives all privileges of that chais excluded from the character of a
As a member of a corporation, party in the sense of the law when a government never exercises its sovespeaking of a body corporate.
reignty. It acts merely as a corporaOn the subject of an interest in the tor, and exercises no other power in stock of a bank, the language of this the management of the affairs of the court, in the case cited, is this: " It is, corporation, than are expressly given wo think, a sound principle, that when by the incorporating act." a government becomes a partner in To which it may be added, that if a any trading company, it devests itself, state did exercise any other power in so far as it concerus che transactions or over a bank, or impart to it its soveof that company, of its sovereign cha- reign attributes, it would be hardly racter, and takes that of a private citi- possible to distinguish the issue of the zen. Instead of communicating to paper of such banks from a direct issue the company its privileges and its pre- of bills of credit; which violation of rogatives, it descends to a level with the constitution, no doubt the state those with whom it associates itself, here intended to avoid.
John F. Satterlee vs. Elizabeth Matthewson.
Mr. Price, and Mr. Sergeant for the The defendant claimed title under a plaintiff, Mr. Sutherland and Mr. patent issued to Wharton in the year Peters for the defendant.
1781, and a conveyance by him to Mr. Justice Washington delivered John F. Satterlee in April, 1812. It the opinion of the court.
was contended on the part of the plainThis is a writ of error to the su- tiff, that admitting the defendant's preme court of Pennsylvania. An title to be the oldest and the best, yet? ejectment was commenced by the de- he was stopped from setting it up in fendant in error in the court of com- that suit, as it appeared in evidence mon pleas against Elisha Salterlee, to that he had come into possession as recover the land in controversy, and tenant to the plaintiff some time in the upon the motion of the plaintiff in year 1790. The courts of common error, he has adınitted as her landlord, pleas decided in favour of the plaintiff, a defendant to the suit. The plaintiff, upon the ground just stated, and judgat the trial, set up a title under a war- ment was accordingly rendered for her rant dated the 10th of January, 1812, Upon a writ of error to the supreme founded upon an inprovement in the court of that state, that court decided, year 1785, which it was admitted was in June, 1825, 13 Serge. & Rarole, 133 under a Connecticut title, and a pa. that by the settled law of Pennsylvatent bearing date the 19th of February, nia, the relation of landlord and tenant 1813.
could not subsist under a Cornecticut
title ; upon which ground the judg which act he pronounced to be binding ment was reversed, and a venire facias on the court. He therefore conde novo was awarded.
cluded, and so charged the jury, that On the 8th of April, 1826, and be it they should be satisfied from the evisore the second trial of this cause took dence, that the transactions between place, the legislature of that state pass the two Sailerlees before mentioned, ed a law in substance as follows, viz. were bona fide, and that John F. Sat* that the relation of landlord and te terlee was the actual purchaser of the nant shall exist, and be held as fully land, then the defendants might set up and effectually between Connecticut the eviction as a bar to the plaintiff's seitlers and Pennsylvania claimants, recovery as landlord. But ihat if the as between other citizens of this com jury should be satisfied that those monwealth, on the trial of any cause transactions were collusive, and that now pending, or hereafter to be Elisha Satterlee was in fact the real brought, within this commonwealth, purchaser, and the name of his son any law or usage to the contrary not. inserted in the deed for the fraudulent withstanding."
purpose of destroying the right of the Upon the retrial of this cause in the plaintiff as landlord; then the mcrely inferior court in May, 1826, evidence claiming under a Connecticut title, tvas given conducing to prove, that the would not deprive her of her right to land in dispute was purchased of recover in that suit. Wharton by Elisha Satterlee, the To this charge, of which the subfather of John F Satierlee, and that stance only has been stated, an excepby his direction the conveyance was
tion was taken, and the whole of it made to the son. It further appeared is spread upon the record. The jury in evidence, that the son brought an found a verdict for the plaintiff; and ejectment against his father in the judgment being rendered for her, the year 1813, and by some contrivance cause was again taken to the supreme between those parties, alleged by the court by a writ of error. plaintiff below to be merely colourable The only question which occurs in and fraudulent, for the purpose of de this cause, which it is competent 10 priving her of her possession, obtained this court to decide, is, whether the staa judgment and execution thereon, un tute of Pennsylvavia which has been der which the possession was delivered mentioned of the 8th of April, 1826, to the plalmiiff in that suit, who imme is or is not objectionable, on the ground diately afterwards leased the premises of its repugnancy to the constitution of to the father for two lives, at a rent of the Uniied States ? But before this one dollar per annum. The fairness inquiry is gone into, it will be proper of the transactions was made a ques. to dispose of a preliminary objection tion on the trial, and it was asserred by made to the jurisdiction of this court, the plaintiff that, notwithstanding the upon the ground that there is nothing eviction of Elisha Satterlee under the apparent on this record to raise that above proceedings, he still continued question, or otherwise to bring this to be her tenant.
case within any of the provisions of The judge, after noticing in his the 25th section of the judiciary act of charge the decision of the supreme
1789. court in 1825, and the act of assembly Questions of this nature have frebefore recited, stated to the jury the quently occurred in this court, and general principle of law, which pre- have given occasion for a critical exvents a tenant from controverting the amination of the above section, which title of his landlord by showing it to be has resulted in the adoption of cerdefective, the exception to that princi- tain principles of construction applicaple where the landlord claims under a ble to it, by which the objection now Connecticut title, as laid down by the to be considered may, without much above decision, and the effect of the difficulty, be decided. 2 Wheaton, act of assembly upon that decision, 363. 4 Wheaton, 311. 12 Wheaton,
117. One of those principles is, that point so decided by the inferior court, if it sufficiently appear from the record and not the reasoning of the judges itself, that the repugnancy of a statute upon it, which this court is now called of a slate to the constitution of the
upon to revise. United States was drawn into ques- We come now to the main question tion, or that that question was applica- in this cause. Is the act which is obble to the case, this court has jurisdic- jected to, repugnant to any provision tion of the cause under the section of of the constitution of the United the act referred to; although the re- States? It is alleged to be so by the cord should not, in terms, state a mis- counsel for the plaintiff in error, for a construction of the constitution of the variety of reasons; and particularly, United States, or that the repugnancy because it impairs the obligation of of the statute of the state to any part the contract between the state of of that constitution was drawn into Pennsylvania and the plaintiff, wlio question.
claims title under her grant to WharNow it is manifest from this record, ton, as well as of the contract henot only that the constitutionality of tween Satterlee and Matthewson ; the statute of the 8th of April, 1826, because it creates a contract between was drawn into question, and was ap- parties where none previously exist plicable to the case, but that it was so ed, by rendering that a binding con. applied by the judge, and formed the tract which the law of the land basis of his opinion to the jury, that had declared to be invalid ; and be they should find in favour of the plain- cause it operates to devest and de. tiff, is in other respects she was en- stroy the vested rights of the plaintiff. titled to a verdict. It is equally na- Another objection relied upon is, that nisest that the right of the plaintiff to in passing the act in question, the lerecover in that action depended on gislature exercised those functions that statute ; the effect of which was to which belong exclusively to the juidia change the law, as the supreme court cial branch of the government. had decided it to be in this very case Let these objections be considered, in the year 1825. 13 S. & R. 133. The grant to Wharton bestowed upon
That the charge of the judge fornis him a see simple estate in the land a part of this record is unquestionable. granted, together with all the rights, It was made so by the bill of excep- privileges and advantages which, by tion, and would have been so without the laws of Penosylvania, that instruit, under the statute of the 24th of ment might legally pass. Were any February, 1806, of that state ; which of those rights, which it is admitted directs, that in all cases in which the vested in his vendee or alienee, dis. opinion of the court shall be delivered, turbed, or impaired by the act under if either party require it, it is made the consideration ?
It does not appear duty of the judges to reduce the opi- from the record, or even from the nion, with their reasons therefor, to reasoning of the judges of either court, writing, and to file the same of record that they were in any instance denied, in the callse.
In the case of Down- or even drawn into question. Before ing vs. Baldwin, 1 Serg: 8, Rawle, Saiterlee became entitled to any part 298, it was decided by the supreme of the land iu dispute under Wharton, court of Pennsylvania, that the opinion he had voluntarily entered into a conso filed becomes part of the record, tract with Matthewson, by which he and that any error in it may be taken became his tenant, under a stipulation advantage of op a writ of error withi- that either of the parties might put an out a bill of exceptions.
end to the tenancy at the termination It will be sufficient to add that this of any one year. Under this new conopinion of the court of common pleas tract, which, if it was ever valid, was was, upon a writ of error, adopted and still subsisting and in full force at the affirmed by the supreme court; and it time when Satterlee acquired the title is the judgment of that court upou the of Wharton, he exposed himself to the
operation of a certain principle of the valid, in opposition to the decision of common law, which estopped him the supreme court; and admitting the from controverting the title of his land- correctness of that decision, it is not lord, by setting up a better title to the easy to perceive how a law which sand in himself
, or one outstanding in gives validity to a void contract, can some third person.
be said to iinpair the obligation of that It is true that the supreme court of contract. Should a statute declare, the state decided, in the year 1825, contrary to the general principles of that this contract, being entered into law, that contracts founded upon an with a person claiıning under a Con- illegal immoral consideration, necticut title, was void; so that the whether in existence at the tiine of principle of law which has been men- passing the statute, or which inight lioned did not apply to it. But the le- hereafter be entered into, should gislature afterwards declared by the nevertheless be valid and binding upon act under examination, that contracts the parties; all would admit the retroof that nature were valid, and that the spective character of such an enactrelation of landlord and tenant should ment, and that the effect of it was to exist, and be held effectual, as well in create a contract between parties contracts of that description, as in where none bad previously existed. those between other citizens of the But it surely cannot be contended, that state.
to create a contract, and to destroy or Now this law may be censured, as inipair one, mean the same thing. it has been, as an unwise and unjust If the effect of the statute in quesexercise of legislative power ; as retro- tion, be not to impair the obligation of spective in its operation; as the exer- either of those contracts, and none cise, by the legislature, of a judicial other appear upon this record, is there function; and as creating a contract any other part of the constitution of between parties where none previously the United States to which it is repugexisted. ` All this may be admitted; nant? It is said to be retrospective. but the question which we are now Be it so; but retrospective laws which considering is, does it impair the obli- do not impair the obligation of congation of the contract between the tracts, or partake of the character of state and Wharton, or his alienee? ex post facto laws, are not condemn. Both the decision of the supreme ed or forbidden by any part of that incourt in 1825, and this act, operate, strument. not upon that contract, but upon the All the other objections which have subsequent contract between Satterlee been made to this statute, admit of the and Matthewson. No question arose, same answer. There is nothing in the or was decided, to disparage the title constitution of United States, which of Wharton, or of Satterlee as his forbids the legislature of a state to exvendee. So far from it, that the judge ercise judicial functions. The case stated in his charge to the jury, that if of Ogden vs. Blackledge came into the transactions between John F. Sat- this court from the circuit court of the terlee and Elisha Satterlee were fair, United States, and not from the suthen the elder title of the defendant preme Court of North Carolina; and inust prevail, and he would be entitled ihe question, whether the act of 1799, to a verdict.
which partook of a judicial character, We are then to inquire, whether the was repugnant to the constitution of obligation of the contract between the United States, did not arise, and Satterlee and Matthewson was im- consequently was not decided. It may paired by this statute ? The objec- safely be affirmed, that no case has tions urged at the bar, and the argu- ever been decided in this court, upon ments in support of them, apply to that a writ of error to a state court, which contract, if to either. It is that con- affords the slightest countenance to tract which the act declared to be this objection.