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It is within the undoubted power of State legislatures to pass recording acts by which the elder grantee shall be postponed to a younger, if the prior deed is not recorded within a limited time, and the power is the same whether the deed is dated before or after the passage of the recording act. Though the effect of such a law is to render the prior deed fraudulent and void against a subsequent purchaser, it is not a law impairing the obligation of contracts. The time and manner of their operation, the exceptions to them, and the acts from which the time limited shall begin to run, will generally depend on the sound discretion of the legislature, according to the nature of the titles, the situation of the country, and the emergency which leads to their enactment. Jackson v. Lamphire, 3 Pet. 280; Varick v. Briggs, 6 Paige, 323; S. C. 22 Wend. 543; Tucker v. Harris, 13 Geo. 1; Boston v. Cummins, 16 Geo. 102 ; Stafford v. Lick, 7 Cal 479; Succession of John M. Nelson, 24 La. Ann. 25; Rochereau v. Delacroix, 26 La. Ann. 584.
A statute requiring the re-registration of deeds already in operation, and registered in conformity with the laws in force at its inception, does not impair the obligation of contracts. Miles v. King, 5 Rich. N. S. 146.
Confirmatory Statutes. An act confirming deeds defectively acknowledged does not impair the obligation of contracts. So far as it has any legal operation, it goes to confirm and not to impair the contracts of the grantors. It gives the very y effect to their acts and contracts which they intended to give, and which from mistake or accident has not been effected. Brinton v. Sievers, 12 Iowa, 389; Watson v. Mercer, 8 Pet. 88; Bell v. Perkins, Peck, 261 ; Barnet v. Barnet, 15 S. & R. 72; Tate v. Stooltzfoos, 16 S. & R. 35; Dulany v. Tilghman, 6 G. & J. 461 ; Maxey v. Wise, 25 Ind. 1; Raverty v. Fridge, 3 McLean, 230; Hughes v. Cannon, 2 Humph. 589; Barton v. Morris, 15 Ohio, 408; Bethune v. Dougherty, 30 Geo. 770; Dentzel v. Waldie, 30 Cal. 138; Journeay v. Gibson, 56 Penn. 57; Chesnut v. Shane, 15 Ohio, 599; contra, Pearce v. Patton, 7 B. Mon. 162.
A statute confirming a defective levy and sale under an execution, does not impair the obligation of a contract. Mather v. Chapman, 6 Conn. 54; Beach v. Walker, 6 Conn. 190; Booth v., Booth, 7 Conn. 350; Bell v. Roberts, 13 Vt. 582; Menges v. Wertman, i Penn. 218; Norton v. Pettibone, 7 Conn. 319; Selsby v. Redlon, 19 Wis. 17.
The legislatures of the States may pass a law confirming the doings of courts and other public bodies known to the law. Locke v. Dane, 9 Mass. 360; Walters v. Bacon, 8 Mass. 468; Patterson v. Philbrook, 9 Mass.
151; Goshen v. Stonington, 4 Conn. 310; Underwood v. Lilly, 10 S. & R. 97; Simmons v. Hanover, 40 Mass. 188; Kearney v. Taylor, 15 How. 494 ; Davis v. State Bank, 7 Ind. 316; Thornton v. McGrath, 1 Duvall, 349.
A statute confirming an illegal assignment of the limits of a jail, will defeat all liability upon a jail bond executed after the assignment, but before the passage of the law, when the alleged escape was simply an entrance into the limits so assigned. Locke v. Dane, 9 Mass. 360; Walter v. Bacon, 8 Mass. 468 ; Patterson v. Philbrook, 9 Mass. 151.
A statute which renders a judgment valid, which was entered upon a verdict rendered after the expiration of the term, is constitutional. Tilton v. Swift, 40 Iowa, 78.
A statute confirming a defective judgment does not impair the obligation of any contract. Underwood v. Lilly, 10 S. & R. 97.
A State may by a retroactive act cure any irregularity or want of authority in the levy of a tax, and thereby divest a right of action vested in an individual who has paid the tax under protest. Grim v. Weissenberg School District, 57 Penn. 433.
If the subscription of a municipal corporation to the stock of a private corporation is not made in pursuance of the power conferred upon it by statute, the legislature may confirm the act.
Boyles, 6 Iowa, 304; Bass v. Mayor, 38 Geo. 875; Han. & St. Jo. R. R. Co. v. Marion, 36
The legislature may validate municipal bonds illegally issued. Kunkle v. Franklin, 13 Minn. 127; Comer v. Folsom, 13 Minn. 219.
If the act of a municipal corporation in subscribing to the stock of a private corporation is void, the legislature may confirm the act. City v. Railroad Co. 15 Conn. 475.
Marriage. Marriage is more than a contract. It is a public institution. Hence, as between husband and wife there is no constitutional provision protecting the marriage itself or the property incident to it from legislative control by general law upon such terms as public policy may dictate. The sovereign power may by general enactment regulate and mold their relative rights and duties at pleasure. Noel v. Ewing, 9 Ind. 37 ; Kelly v. McCarthy, 3 Bradf. 7; Thurber v. Townsend, 22 N. Y. 517; White v. White, 5 Barb. 474.
This provision has never been understood to restrict the general right of the State legislature to legislate on the subject of divorces. Those acts
enable some tribunal not to impair a marriage contract, but to liberate one of the parties because it has been broken by the other. Carson v. Carson, 40 Miss. 349; Cronise v. Cronise, 54 Penn. 255; Darimouth College v Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518; Maguire v. Maguire, 7 Dana, 181; Adams v. Palmer, 51 Me. 480 ; Starr v. Pease, 8 Conn. 541 ; Tolen v. Tolen, 2 Blackf. 407 ; Clark v. Clark, 10 N. H. 380; Townsend v. Griffin, 4 Harring. 440; Cabell v. Cabell, i Metc. (Ky.) 319; Berthelemy v. Johnson, 3 B. Mon 90; contra, State v. Fry, 4 Mo. 120; Bryson v. Campbell, 12 Mo. 498; Ponder v. Graham, 4 Fla. 23.
A statute which takes away the marital rights of the husband does not impair any contract. White v. White, 5 Barb. 474; Thurber v. Townsend, 22 N. Y. 517; contra, Holmes v. Holmes, 4 Barb. 295.
A statute exempting the property of the husband, from liability for the debts of the wife contracted prior to marriage is valid. Fultz v. Fox, 9 B.
A statute allowing a feme covert to hold all property subsequently acquired for her own use, free from the control of her husband, is valid. Kelly v. McCarthy, 3 Bradf. 7; Starr v. Hamilton, i Deady, 268.
A statute enlarging or abridging the wife's right of dower is valid. Noel v. Ewing, 9 Ind. 37; Barbour v. Barbour, 46 Me. 9; Moore. v. Mayor, 8 N. Y. 110; Lucas v. Sawyer, 17 Iowa, 517; Magee v. Young, 40 Miss. 164.
A statute authorizing the surrogate to sell property so as to pass to the purchaser a title free from the widow's dower is valid. In re Lawrence, 5 N. Y. Sur. 310.
The disability of a feme covert to convey property granted to her for her sole and separate use flows from the nature of the use vested in her as implied in equity, and is wholly founded in the law of her relation, and not in the form of the terms of the grant, and may be removed by law without impairing the obligation of the grant contained in the deed. Jones' Appeal, 57 Penn 369.
Public Omcers, A public officer is the mere creature of law created by the sovereign power of the State for public purposes, as the agent of the body politic to give effect to its sovereignty and carry into effect its will. His office is a mere civil institution, established for public political purposes, and may be regulated or changed by society. The mere creature of law, he holds not by contract, and his duties change with the law. Hence the salary may be diminished or abolished during the term of his office. State v. Dews, R. M. Charlt. 397 ; People v. Auditor, 2 III. 537 ; Barker v. Pittsburgh, 4 Penn. 49; Conner v. New York, 2 Sandf. 355; Benford v. Gibson, 15 Ala. 521; Butler v. Pennsylvania, 10 How. 402 ; State v. Smedes, 26 Miss. 47 ; Coffin v. State, 7 Ind. 157; Hall v. State, 39 Wis. 79; Hyde v. State, 52 Miss. 665; Gilbert v. Commissioners, 8 Blackf. 81; Turpen v. Commissioners, 7 Ind. 172; Comm. v. Bacon, 6 S. & R. 322; Haynes v. State, 3 Humph. 480 ; People v. Burrows, 27 Barb. 89; Farwell v. Rockland, 62 Me. 296; Denver v. Hobart, 10 Nev. 28; Phillips v. Mayor, i Hilt. 483; Iowa City v. Foster, 10 Iowa, 189; Gilbert v. Commissioners, 8 Blackf. 81; People v. Devlin, 33 N. Y. 269; Swann v. Buck, 40 Miss. 268; People v. Lippincott, 67 Ill. 333; Walker v. Dunham, 17 Ind. 483 ; Walker v. Peele, 18 Ind, 264; Territory v. Pyle, i Oregon, 149; Bryan v. Cattell, 15 Iowa, 538.
The legislature may attach additional duties to a public office without increasing the compensation of the officer. Turpen v. Commissioners, 7 Ind 172.
An officer of a public corporation is a public officer. Iowa City v. Foster, 10 Iowa, 189; Augusta v. Sweeny, 44 Geo. 463; Comm v. Bacon, 6 S. & R. 322.
A statute permitting a party to establish a lottery merely grants an immunity which may be withdrawn if no contract made with others is thereby impaired. Gregory v. Shelby College, 2 Metc. (Ky.) 589; Bass v. Mayor, Meigs, 421 ; State v. Phalen, 3 Harring. 441; Phalen v. Comm. I Rob. (Va.) 713; S. C. 8 How. 163; Freleigh v. State, 8 Mo. 606; State v. Sterling, 8 Mo. 697.
If a contract has been made by a party holding an authority to establish a lottery, the legislature can not impair the contract. Gregory v. Shelby College, 2 Metc. (Ky.) 589; State v. Phalen, 3 Harring. 441; State v. Hawthorn, 9 Mo. 389.
If no bonus is given for a right to establish a lottery, the legislature may subsequently levy a tax on the franchise. Wendover v. Lexington, 15 B. Mon, 258.
A license to sell liquor is not a contract between the State and the person licensed, but is merely a temporary permit to do what otherwise would be an offense against the general law. It is issued as a part of the police system of the State, and is subject to modification or revocation. Calder v. Kurby, 71 Mass. 597 ; Metropolitan Board v. Barrie, 34 N. Y. 657; Fell v. State, 42 Md. 71 ; State v. Holmes, 38 N. H. 225.
Although the effect of a license to practice law or medicine, or to sell goods at public auction, gives to the members of the professions something of an exclusive character, and incidentally confers valuable privileges, yet
the design of the license is to protect the community from the consequences of a want of professional qualifications, and to benefit the public by enabling the professions to acquire professional merits. Consequently the license may be modified in any manner which the public welfare may demand. A tax upon such as are licensed is not unconstitutional. State v. Gazlay, 5 Ohio, 14; Simmons v. State, 12 Mo. 268 ; New Orleans v. Turpin, 13 La. Ann. 56; State v. Waples, 12 La. Ann. 343; State v. Fellowes, 12 La. Ann. 344.
Where a foreign corporation is required to obtain a certificate before it can transact business in the State, such certificate does not constitute a X contract so as to prohibit subsequent taxation by the laws of the State. Home Ins. Co. v. Augusta, 93 U. S. 116.
A statute requiring the oath of loyalty from an attorney does not impair the obligation of any contract. State v. Garesche, 36 Mo. 256.
If the State, for a valuable consideration; stipulates that certain lands shall be exempt from taxation, it can not pass any law to impair the obli- X gation of such a contract. State v. Wilson, 7 Cranch, 164; S. C. 2 N. J. 300. If a State in issuing scrip for land provides that the land shall be ex
exy empt from taxation for a certain period, it can not repeal the exemption as to lands paid for by scrip issued before the repeal. McGee v. Mathis, 4 Wall. 143.
If a statute which provides that all lands purchased from the United X States shall be exempt from taxation for a certain period from the time of the purchase, the land can not be taxed until the expiration of that time. It is different from a statute merely exempting property from present taxation. In the one case there is a specific contract; in the other there is no contract and no obligation to extend the obligation beyond the present time. Thompson v. Holton, 6 McLean, 386.
If the privilege of exemption of taxation is annexed to the land itself, it ? will pass to a purchaser. State v. Wilson, 7 Cranch, 164; S. C. 2 N. J. 300.
A statute releasing a railroad corporation from a tax lawfully imposed upon it by a municipal corporation, impairs the obligation of the contract, and is void. City v. Ill. Central R. R. Co. 39 Iowa, 36.
A statute imposing a tax on a loan may authorize the borrower to deduct the amount of the tax from the interest, for taxation does not impair the obligation of contracts within the meaning of the inhibition. Maltby v. Reading & Col. R. R. Co. 52 Penn. 140.