Commonwealth Bank of Kentucky v. Griffith - 39 U.S. 56 (1840)
U.S. Supreme Court
Commonwealth Bank of Kentucky v. Griffith, 39 U.S. 14 Pet. 56 56 (1840)
Commonwealth Bank of Kentucky v. Griffith
39 U.S. (14 Pet.) 56
Under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789, three things are necessary to give the Supreme Court jurisdiction of a case brought up by writ of error or appeal.
1. The validity of a statute of the United States, or of an authority exercised under a state must be drawn in question.
2. It must be drawn in question on the ground that it
is repugnant to the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States.
3. The decision of the state court must be in favor of its validity.
When the decision of a state court is against the validity of a state statute as contrary to the Constitution of the United States, a writ of error does not lie to the Supreme Court upon such a judgment.
Mr. McGinnis, of counsel for the defendant in error, moved the Court to dismiss this writ of error for want of jurisdiction.
The action was originally instituted in the Ninth Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri on a promissory note given by the defendant in error to the Commonwealth Bank of Kentucky for the notes of that bank to the amount of the promissory note. To this action the defendant pleaded several pleas, and among them was one which presented the questions whether the charter of the Commonwealth Bank of Kentucky was a violation of the Constitution of the United States and whether the notes of the bank were not "bills of credit." The judgment of the circuit court was given in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant removed the cause to the Supreme Court of Missouri by a writ of error.
In the supreme court, the judgment of the circuit court was reversed, the court deciding that the notes of the bank were "bills of credit," and prohibited by the Constitution of the United States. The Bank of the Commonwealth prosecuted this writ of error, under the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act of 1789.