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sory note.1 So a law which shortens the time for redemption from a mortgage, after a foreclosure sale has taken place, is void; the rights of the party being fixed by the foreclosure and the law then in force, and the mortgagor being entitled, under the law, to possession of the land until the time of redemption expires.2 And where by statute a purchaser of lands from the State had the right, upon the forfeiture of his contract of purchase for the non-payment of the sum due upon it, to revive it at any time. before a public sale of the lands, by the payment of all sums due upon the contract, with a penalty of five per cent, it was held that this right could not be taken away by a subsequent change in the law which subjected the forfeited lands to private entry and sale. And a statute which authorizes stay of exe- [* 292] cution, for an unreasonable or indefinite period, on judgments rendered on pre-existing contracts, is void, as postponing payment, and taking away all remedy during the continuance of the stay. And a law is void on this ground which declares a for
1 Robinson v. Howe, 13 Wis. 341; Dikeman v. Dikeman, 11 Paige, 484; Goenen v. Schroeder, 8 Minn. 387. But see Stone v. Basset, 4 Minn. 298; Heyward v. Judd, 4 Minn. 483; Freeborn v. Pettibone, 5 Minn. 277.
2 Cargill v. Power, 1 Mich. 369. The contrary ruling was made in Butler v. Palmer, 1 Hill, 324, by analogy to the Statute of Limitations. The statute, it was said, was no more in effect than saying: "Unless you redeem within the shorter time prescribed, you shall have no action for a recovery of the land, nor shall your defence against an action be allowed, provided you get possession." And in Robinson v. Howe, 13 Wis. 346, the court, speaking of a similar right in a party, say: "So far as his right of redemption was concerned, it was not derived from any contract, but was given by the law only; and the time within which he might exercise it might be shortened by the legislature, provided a reasonable time was left in which to exercise it, without impairing the obligation of any con
tract." And see Smith v. Packard, 12 Wis. 371, to the same effect.
3 State v. Commissioners of School and University lands, 4 Wis. 414.
4 Chadwick v. Moore, 8 W. & S. 49; Bunn v. Gorgas, 41 Penn. St. 441; Stevens v. Andrews, 31 Mo. 205; Hasbrouck v. Shipman, 16 Wis. 296. In Breitenbach v. Bush, 44 Penn. St. 313, and Coxe v. Martin, 44 Penn. St. 322, it was held that an act staying all civil process against volunteers who had enlisted in the national service for three years or during the war was valid, — “during the war" being construed to mean unless the war should sooner terminate. See also State v. Carew, 13 Rich. 498. A general law that all suits pending should be continued until peace between the Confederate States and the United States, was held void in Burt v. Williams, 24 Ark. 94. See also Taylor v. Stearns, 18 Grat. 244; Hudspeth v. Davis, 41 Ala. 389; Aycock v. Martin, 37 Geo. 124; Coffman v. Bank of Kentucky, 40 Miss. 29; Jacobs v. Smallwood,
feiture of the charter of a corporation for acts or omissions which constituted no cause of forfeiture at the time they occurred.1 And it has been held that where a statute authorized a municipal corporation to issue bonds, and to exercise the power of local taxation in order to pay them, and persons bought and paid value for bonds issued accordingly, this power of taxation is part of the contract, and cannot be withdrawn until the bonds are satisfied; that an attempt to repeal or restrict it by statute is void; and that unless the corporation imposes and collects the tax in all respects as if the subsequent statute had not been passed, it will be compelled to do so by mandamus.2 And it has also been held that a statute repealing a former statute, which made the stock of stockholders in a corporation liable for its debts, was, in respect to creditors existing at the time of the repeal, a law impairing the obligation of contracts.3 In each of these cases it is evi
[* 293] dent that substantial rights were affected; and so far as the laws which were held void operated upon the remedy, they either had an effect equivalent to importing some new stipulation into the contract, or they failed to leave the party a substantial remedy such as was assured to him by the law in force
63 N. C. 112; Cutts v. Hardee, 38
empting soldiers from civil process until thirty days after their discharge from military service was held valid as to all contracts subsequently entered into, in Bruns v. Crawford, 34 Mo. 330. And see McCormick v. Rusch, 15 Iowa, 127. A statute suspending limitation laws during the existence of civil war, and until the State was restored to her proper relations to the Union, was sustained in Bender v. Crawford, 33 Tex. 745. Compare Bradford v. Shine, 13 Fla. 393.
1 People v. Jackson and Michigan Plank Road Co., 9 Mich. 285, per Christiancy, J.; State v. Tombeckbee Bank, 2 Stew. 30. See Ireland v. Turnpike Co., 19 Ohio, N. s. 373. 2 Van Hoffman v. Quincy, 4 Wall. 535. See also Soutter v. Madison, 15 Wis. 30; Smith v. Appleton, 19 Wis. 468.
3 Hawthorne v. Calef, 2 Wall. 10.
when the contract was made. In Pennsylvania it has been held that a statute authorizing a stay of execution on contracts in which the debtor had waived the right was unconstitutional;1 but it seems to us that an agreement to waive a legal privilege which the law gives as a matter of State policy cannot be binding upon a party, unless the law itself provides for the waiver.2
Where, however, by the operation of existing laws, a contract cannot be enforced without some new action of a party to fix his liability, it is as competent to prescribe by statute the requisites to the legal validity of such act as it would be in any case to prescribe the legal requisites of a contract to be thereafter made. Thus, though a verbal promise is sufficient to revive a debt barred by the Statute of Limitations or by bankruptcy, yet this rule may be changed by a statute making all such future promises void unless in writing. It is also equally true that where a legal impediment exists to the enforcement of a contract which parties have entered into, the constitutional provision in question will not preclude the legislature from removing such impediment and validating the contract. A statute of that description would not impair the obligation of contracts, but would perfect and enforce it. And for similar reasons the obligation of contracts is not impaired by continuing the charter of a corporation for a certain period, in order to the proper closing its business.5
State Insolvent Laws. In this connection some notice may seem requisite of the power of the States to pass insolvent laws, and the classes of contracts to which they may be made to apply. As this whole subject has been gone over very often and very fully by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the important questions seem at last to be finally set at rest, and moreover as it is comparatively unimportant while a federal bank
rupt law exists, we shall content ourselves with giving [* 294] what we understand to be the conclusions of the court.
1 Billmeyer v. Evans, 40 Penn. St. 324; Lewis v. Lewis, 44 Penn. St. 127. See Laucks' Appeal, 24 Penn. 426; Case v. Dunmore, 23 Penn. 93; Bowman v. Smiley, 31 Penn. 225.
2 See Conkey v. Hart, 14 N. Y. 30; Handy v. Chatfield, 23 Wend. 35. 3 Joy. Thompson, 1 Doug. (Mich.) 373; Kingsley v. Cousins, 47 Me. 91.
4 As where the defence of usury to a contract is taken away by statute. Welsh v. Wadsworth, 30 Conn. 149; Curtis v. Leavitt, 15 N. Y. 9. And see Wood v. Kennedy, 19 Ind. 68, and the cases cited, post, pp. *375, *376.
5 Foster v. Essex Bank, 16 Mass.
1. The several States have power to legislate on the subject of bankrupt and insolvent laws, subject, however, to the authority conferred upon Congress by the Constitution to adopt a uniform system of bankruptcy, which authority, when exercised, is paramount, and State enactments in conflict with those in Cougress upon the subject must give way.1
2. Such State laws, however, discharging the person or the property of the debtor, and thereby terminating the legal obligation of the debts, cannot constitutionally be made to apply to contracts entered into before they were passed, but they may be made applicable to such future contracts as can be considered as having been made in reference to them.2
3. Contracts made within a State where an insolvent law exists, between citizens of that State, are to be considered as made in reference to the law, and are subject to its provisions. But the law cannot apply to a contract made in one State between a citizen thereof and a citizen of another State, nor to contracts not made within the State, even though made between citizens of the same State, except, perhaps, where they are citizens of the State passing the law.5 And where the contract is made between a citizen of one State and a citizen of another, the circumstance that the contract is made payable in the State where the insolvent law exists will not render such contract subject to be discharged under the law.6 If, however, the creditor in any of these cases makes himself a party to proceedings under the insolvent law, he will be bound thereby like any other party to judicial proceedings, and is not to be heard afterwards to object that his debt was excluded by the Constitution from being affected by the law.7
New provisions for personal liberty, and for the protection of
1 Sturges v. Crowninshield, 4 Wheat. 122; Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank v. Smith, 6 Wheat. 131; Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 213; Baldwin v. Hale, 1 Wall. 229.
2 Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 213.
8 Ogden v. Saunders, 12 Wheat. 213; Springer v. Foster, 2 Story, 387; Boyle v Zacharie, 6 Pet. 348; Woodhull v. Wagner, Baldw. 300; Suydham v. Broadnax, 14 Pet. 75; Cook
v. Moffat, 5 How. 310; Baldwin ". Hale, 1 Wall. 231.
McMillan v. McNeill, 4 Wheat.
5 Marsh v. Putnam, 3 Gray, 551. 6 Baldwin v. Hale, 1 Wall. 223; Baldwin v. Bank of Newberry, 1 Wall. 231; Gilman v. Lockwood, 4 Wall. 409.
7 Clay v. Smith, 3 Pet. 411; Baldwin v. Hale, 1 Wall. 223; Gilman v. Lockwood, 4 Wall. 409.
the right to life, liberty, and property, are made by the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States; and these will be referred to in the two succeeding chapters. The most important clause in the fourteenth amendment is that part of section 1 which declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. This provision very properly puts an end to any question of the title of the freedmen and others of their race to the rights of citizenship; but it may be doubtful whether the further provisions of the same section surround the citizen with any protections additional to those before possessed under the State constitutions; though, as a principle of State constitutional law has now been made a part of the Constitution of the United States, the effect will be to make the Supreme Court of the United States the final arbiter of cases in which a violation of this principle by State laws is complained of, inasmuch as the decisions of the State courts upon laws which are supposed to violate it will be subject to review in that court on appeal.3
1 See ante, p. *11; post, pp. *299, *397.
2 The complete text of this section is as follows: "Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
* See ante, pp. *12-*14. Notwithstanding this section, the protection of all citizens in their privileges and immunities, and in their right to an impartial administration of the laws, is just as much the business of the individual States as it was before.
This amendment of the Constitution does not concentrate power in the general government for any purpose of police government within the States; its object is to preclude legislation by any State which shall "abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States," or "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law," or "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws;" and Congress is empowered to pass all laws necessary to render such unconstitutional State legislation ineffectual. This amendment has received a very full examination at the hands of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Slaughter-House Case, 16 Wall. 36, and in United States v. Cruikshanks, 92 U. S. Rep. 542, with the conclusion above stated. See Story on Const. (4th ed.) App. to Vol. II.