Roth v. Delano
338 U.S. 226 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Roth v. Delano, 338 U.S. 226 (1949)

Roth v. Delano

No. 24

Argued October 14, 1949

Decided November 7, 1949

338 U.S. 226

Syllabus

The Attorney General of Michigan brought an action in a federal district court in Michigan against the Comptroller of the Currency and the Receiver of an insolvent national bank located in Michigan for a declaratory judgment that the Michigan discovery and escheat statute, as amended in 1941, applies to unclaimed dividends on claims duly proved in liquidation. The Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the action "on the merits," but it was not clear whether it did so upon the ground that the Michigan statute was unconstitutional or upon the ground that it was not intended to apply to receiverships begun before its enactment. Moreover, the 1941 amendment has been repealed, with the possible consequence that no new suit could be maintained to enforce it.

Held: judgment vacated and the cause remanded for appropriate action in the light of this opinion. Pp. 338 U. S. 227-231.

(a) Since an earlier decision of the court below holding the Michigan escheat law unconstitutional as applied to national banks, this Court has held, in effect, that the Constitution of the United States does not prohibit a state from escheating deposits in a national bank located and actively doing business therein, abandoned by their owners, or belonging to missing persons. Anderson National Bank v. Luckett,321 U. S. 233. Pp. 338 U. S. 229-231.

(b) If the decision below rests upon earlier decisional law of the circuit holding that the Michigan escheat law was not intended to apply to receiverships begun before its enactment, this Court would hardly review such construction of the state act. P. 338 U. S. 231.

(c) The 1941 amendment to the Michigan escheat act having been repealed since this action was brought, to now decide this suit for a declaratory judgment based thereon might be to render an advisory judgment on the constitutionality of a repealed state act, even though the repeal purported not to affect any "pending suit or proceeding." P. 338 U. S. 231.

170 F.2d 966, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

Page 338 U. S. 227

A federal district court dismissed a suit brought by the Attorney General of Michigan against the Comptroller of the Currency and the Receiver of an insolvent national bank for a declaratory judgment that the Michigan discovery and escheat statute (Mich.Comp.Laws, 1929, Mason's 1940 Cum.Supp., c. 263, as amended by Mich. Public Act No. 170 of 1941) applies to unclaimed dividends on claims duly proved in liquidation. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 170 F.2d 966. On appeal to this Court, judgment vacated and cause remanded, p. 338 U. S. 231.

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