Church v. KelseyAnnotate this Case
121 U.S. 282 (1887)
U.S. Supreme Court
Church v. Kelsey, 121 U.S. 282 (1887)
Church v. Kelsey
Submitted March 28, 1887
Decided April 18, 1887
121 U.S. 282
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT
OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
The Constitution of the United States does not prevent a state from giving to its courts of equity power to hear and determine a suit brought by the holder of an equitable interest in land to establish his rights against the holder of the legal title.
A state constitution is not a contract within the meaning of that clause of the Constitution of the United states which prohibits the states from passing laws impairing the obligation of contracts.
This was a motion to dismiss, to which was united a motion to affirm. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
If we understand correctly the questions on which it is claimed our jurisdiction in this case rests, they are: 1. that the provision in § 1, Art. XIV, of the amendments of the Constitution of the United States that a state shall not "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law" prevents the State of Pennsylvania from giving jurisdiction to a court of equity of a suit brought by the
owner of an equitable interest in land to establish his rights against the holder of the legal title, because it deprives the holder of the legal title of the right to a trial by jury, which he would have in a suit at law, and 2. that, as the constitution of a state is the "fundamental contract made between the collective body of citizens of the state and each individual citizen," a state statute which violates a state constitution is a "law impairing the obligation of contracts" within the meaning of that term as used in Art. I,
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