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'to do more than he has promised. An act which should enforce payment before the debt becomes due, would be unconstitutional. The rights of both parties established by the contract are, in the eye of justice, equally sacred. Jones v. Crittenden, i Car. L. Rep. 385; Townsend v. Townsend, Peck, 1.
The terms and conditions of executory contracts can not be altered or interfered with in any respect by the legislature. The time, place, person or thing to be done can not be changed by act of assembly: Townsend v. Townsend, Peck, 1.
Where the contract is executed, it is impaired by a law operating to divest any right or estate which has passed or become vested under the grant. Phila. W. & B. R. R. Co. v. Bowers, 4 Houst. 506.
It is not true that the parties have in view only the property in possession when the contract is formed, or that its obligation does not extend to future acquisitions. Industry, talents and integrity constitute a fund which is as confidently trusted as property itself. Future acquisitions are therefore liable for contracts, and to release them from this liability impairs their obligation. Sturges v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 122.
Just in proportion as delay, uncertainty, inadequacy or onerous exactions characterize the remedy, just in that proportion is the obligation actually diminished or impaired. Wood v. Wood, 14 Rich. 148.
The civil laws of a State can only have operation co extensive with the territorial limits of the State, and the obligation which contracts derive from those laws must necessarily be circumscribed by the same limits. It is, therefore, utterly impossible that an obligation derived from the laws of one State can be impaired by the laws of any other State. Lapsley v. Brashears, 4 Litt. 47.
The courts do refer to the laws of the State where the contract was made in deciding upon its nature and construction, but in doing so they do not proceed upon the notion that the contract brings with it the legal obligation which it derived from the laws of the State where it was made. In referring to the laws of a foreign State, the courts acknowledge that all persons are everywhere under a moral obligation to perform their contracts, and go upon the idea that wherever that moral obligation grows out of a contract conforming to the laws of the State where it was made, there is through the medium of remedies prescribed by the laws of the State where redress is sought, a legal force given to that moral obligation. But there is no provision in the Constitution which requires each State in the Union to give the same legal obligation to contracts made in any State. The Constitution, in that respect, has prescribed no limits to the power of the State. Lapsley v. Brashears, 4 Litt. 47.
It is unquestionably true that one legislature can not, by ordinary legislation, bind or control, in any manner, subsequent legislatures. But it is equally true that by special legislation a subsequent legislature may be bound. Antoni v. Wright, 22 Gratt. 833 ; State Bank v. Knoop, 16 How. 369; Ohio Trust Co. v. Debolt, 16 How. 416; S. C. 1 Ohio St. 563; State v. County Court, 19 Ark. 360; State v. Bank, 2 Houst. 99 ; Humphrey v. Pegues, 16 Wall. 244 ; Wilmington Railroad v. Reid, 13 Wall 264; Tomlinson v. Branch Bank, 15 Wall. 460 ; Jefferson Bank v. Skelly, 1 Black, 436; s. C. 9 Ohio St. 606; People v. Auditor, 7 Mich. 84; Matheny v. Golden, 5 Ohio St. 361 ; IIl. Cent. R. R. Co. v. County, 17 III. 291 ; State Bank v. People, 5 III. 303; Mechanics' Bank v. Debolt, 18 How. 380; S.C.
. i Ohio St. 591; Camden & Amboy R. R. Co. v. Commissioners, 18 N. J. 71; Daughdrill v. Life Ins. Co. 31 Ala. 91; State v. Commercial Bank, 7 Ohio, 125 ; State v. Auditor, 5 Ohio St. 444; Ross County Bank 7'. Lewis, 5 Ohio St. 447; Bank v. New Albany, 11 Ind. 139: State v. Berry, 17 N. J. 81; Gardner v. State, 21 N. J. 557 ; Bank v. Edwards, 5 Ired. 516; Bank v. Deming, 7 Ired. 55; Municipality v. State Bank, 5 La. Ann. 394 ; Dodge v. Woolsey, 18 How. 331; Mechanics' Bank v. Thomas, 18 How. 384 ; Johnson v. Comm. 7 Dana, 338 : contra, Mott v. Penn. R. R Co. 30 Penn. 9; Norwalk Co. v. Husted, 3 Ohio St. 586; Toledo Bank v. Bond, 1 Ohio
3 St. 622 ; Exchange Bank v. Hines, 3 Ohio St. 1; Milan & R. Plank Road Co. v. Husted, 3 Ohio St. 578; Sandusky Bank v. Wilsor, 7 Ohio St. 48.
A State legislature can not abandon the police power, or give a vested right to its exercise by a corporation or individual. Dingman v. People, 51
A State may contract with an individual by an act of the legislature. Canal Co. v. Railroad Co. 4 G. & J. 1; Winter v. Jones, 10 Geo. 190 ; Trustees v. Bailey, 10 Fla. 112.
Every contract with a State presupposes that some consideration is given, or is supposed to be given, by the party—that the community is to receive from it some public benefit which it could not obtain without his aid. Ohio Trust Co. v. Debolt, 16 How. 416; S. C. 1 Ohio St. 563.
It is not every declaration of the present will of the sovereign which constitutes a contract with the individual citizen. It does not necessarily follow that a law is intended as a contract from the use of language appropriate to a private agreement. The language must be construed with reference to those who use it, the subject to which they apply it, the context in which it is used, and the purpose for which it is employed. A general statute should not be construed to be a contract when it was obviously designed only as an expression of the legislative will, for the time being, in a matter of mere municipal regulation. When this is the object of the
law, those who act on the faith of its provisions do so with notice that it is subject to revocation by the State whenever the public exigencies may demand. People v. Roper, 35 N. Y. 629.
Laws passed in the exercise of the ordinary legislative power of a State x are not contracts within the purview of the Constitution, and laws which amend or repeal them do not fall beneath the constitutional inhibition. State v. Dews, R. M. Charlt. 397 ; Corning v. Greene, 23 Barb. 33.
The repeal of a statute before the party has taken all the steps necessary to give him a right under it, does not impair the obligation of a contract. Vanhorne v. Dorrance, 2 Dall. 304; Huntsman v. Randolph, 5 Hay, 263; Brinsfield v. Carter, 2 Geo, 143; Mobile R. R. Co. v. State, 29 Ala. 573; State v. Jones, 6 Wis. 334; State v. Gray, 4 Wis. 380; Wise v. Rogers, 24 Gratt. 169.
A statute which implies a contract executory, depending upon the further action of the legislature or its agents for its execution, and which is without any consideration in fact or law, may, before its execution and the existence of any consideration, be repealed, for such a contract does not create any rights or duties which can, in legal contemplation, be impaired. Trustees v. Rider, 13 Conn. 87.
General regulations for the descent and transmission of property in case of the death of the possessor, to his widow, heirs and next of kin, do not constitute a contract with them so as to bring those laws within the prohibition of the Constitution. In re Lawrence, 5 N. Y. Sur. 310.
A statute which contains a contract is not absolutely unchangeable, for it is a law as well as a contract, and it is of the very nature of law that those of its provisions which are merely legislative modes to give effect to the substantial purposes of the statute may need revision and alteration. The details may, as in other laws, be altered where the alteration does not affect the obligation of the contract. Thornton v. Hooper, 14 Cal. 9.
A statute by which a State waives the privilege of sovereignty, and permits itself to be sued, is not a contract, but an ordinary act of legislation. y Consequently, the State may withdraw its consent to such waiver whenever it may suppose that justice to the public requires it, even though such withdrawal affects pending suits. Beers v. State, 20 How. 527; Bank of Washington v. State, 20 How. 530 ; Platenius v. State, 17 Ark. 518.
A statute granting an annuity in consideration of public services X already rendered, is not a contract, and may be repealed. Pension laws are not contracts. Dale v. Governor, 3 Stew. 387.
A statute taking from the board of supervisors the power to make contracts for the publication of the delinquent tax list, and conferring it on another officer before the publication is commenced, does not impair the
obligation of a contract previously made with the board, for the contractor must be deemed to have acted with reference to the fact that the matter was within the control of the legislature, and that the law might be changed before he would enter upon the performance of the work. Pott v. Supervisors, 25 Wis. 506.
A statute offering a bounty to those who do certain acts, is not a contract except as to those who earn the bounty while it is in force, and a repeal as to others is valid. Salt Co. v. East Saginaw, 13 Wall. 373; S. C. 19
A claim of personal exemption from taxation, from jury duty or military duty, is not in the nature of a right of property or a corporate franchise. A general law exempting those who have served in the militia for a certain period, from taxation, is valid. People v. Roper, 35 N. Y. 629.
It is immaterial whether the instrument by which the public faith is pledged, is in its terms a contract or in form a mere legislative enactment. In either event it is equally a contract within the meaning of the Constitution. Bridge Co. v. Hoboken Land Co. 13 N. J. Eq. 81; S. C. 1 Wall. 116.
A statute can not deprive a party of a bounty which has been already earned under a prior act. People v. Auditor, 9 Mich. 327.
If the laws in force at the time of the sale of land by the State, provide that the purchaser may revive his contract after a breach thereof, by paying the sum due, with interest, at any time before a second sale, this privilege can not be taken away by a subsequent act. Damman v. Commissioners, 4 Wis. 414.
Where a contract is made under authority of law, the right acquired arises not from the law itself, but from the contract to which it pertains as an incident, and the legislature can not divest the right thus acquired. State v. Barker, 4 Kans. 379, 435.
If a State authorizes a sale of stock held by it, it can not repeal the law after a sale has been made, and thus deprive a purchaser of the means of enforcing a contract. Baldwin v. Comm. i Bush, 417.
Where a statute enacts that a corporation shall be responsible and obligated in law to the laborers for work performed under contractors, rights acquired while it is in force can not be impaired by a subsequent statute. Streubel v. Mil. & M. R. R. Co. 12 Wis. 67.
A statute which provides that the coupons on a State bond shall be receivable in payment of all taxes, debts and dues to the State, is a contract with the holders, and can not be repealed so as to affect their rights. Antoni v. Wright, 23 Gratt. 833.
A person who has been an officer in the militia during the existence of a statute providing that such officers should be exempt from militia duty, may nevertheless be compelled to serve in the militia by a subsequent statute repealing the exemption. Comm. v. Bird, 12 Mass. 443.
It was not the purpose of this provision to impose on the courts the duty either of interposing between the legislature and the citizens in matters of pure governmental concern, of trammeling the States in the exercise of their general political powers, or of stamping municipal regulations for the time being with the seal of irrevocability. People v. Roper, 35 N. Y. 629.
Where a State gives a contract for printing the laws to one person for certain period, it can not subsequently make a contract with another for the same work. State v. Barker, 4 Kans. 379, 435.
A statute exempting the property of municipal corporations from forced sale on executions, is valid if no prior statute has authorized a levy thereon, for at common law no such levy could be made. Gilman v. Contra Costa, 8 Cal. 52.
If consolidated bonds, the payment of which is secured by a certain tax, are issued under a statute to compromise outstanding bonds, with a provision that they shall only be used to take up those bonds, no subsequent act can authorize the diversion of such bonds to any other use. McComb v. Board of Liquidation, 2 Woods, 48; S. C. 7 C. L. N. 251.
A statute providing a redemption fund to meet municipal indebtedness, may provide that a preference shall be given to the proposal that offers the largest amount of indebtedness for the least amount of money. Youngs v. Hall, 9 Nev. 212; contra, Bleakley v. Williams, 20 Pitts. L. J. 66.
9 A statute requiring the holders of county warrants bearing interest at the rate of ten per cent., to surrender them and accept in lieu thereof bonds bearing seven per cent interest, is void. Brewer v. Otoe Co. i Neb. 373.
A statute providing that a warrant for a municipal indebtedness shall not be deemed to be valid unless it is presented to and passed by commissioners, is void, for the creditor can not be compelled to accept another and different mode of payment from that provided in his contract. Rose v. Estudillo, 39 Cal. 270.
A county government is a portion of the State government, and the county debt created by authority of law is a part of the public State debt ; and in the same manner, as there is no remedy against the State, there may be none against the county. A statute may, therefore, change the mode and time of paying the county debt. Hunsaker v. Borden, 5 Cal.