Railroad Company v. Tennessee - 101 U.S. 337 (1879)
U.S. Supreme Court
Railroad Company v. Tennessee, 101 U.S. 337 (1879)
Railroad Company v. Tennessee
101 U.S. 337
The Constitution of Tennessee, in force in 1838, declares that "suits may be brought against the state in such manner and in such courts as the legislature may by law direct." The statute of 1855 providing that actions might the state under the same rules and regulations that govern those between private citizens, but conferring no power on the court to execute their judgments, was repealed in 1865. No other law was enacted prescribing the manner or the courts in which the state could be sued. In a suit subsequently brought by the state in 1872 against the Bank of Tennessee and certain of its creditors, A., who was admitted a defendant, filed a cross-bill, setting up that while the first statute was in force, the bank became indebted to him and, praying that under the indemnity clause of its charter, a decree be rendered against the state for the amount of the debt. The cross-bill was dismissed solely upon the ground that the state could not be sued in her own courts. Held that the repealing statute of 1865 did not impair the obligation of a contract within the meaning of the contract clause of the Constitution of the United States.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.