Cooper v. Telfair
4 U.S. 14

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cooper v. Telfair, 4 U.S. 4 Dall. 14 14 (1800)

Cooper v. Telfair

4 U.S. (4 Dall.) 14


By the Confiscation Act of Georgia, a debt due to the plaintiff on bond by a citizen of the State of Georgia had become forfeited to the state, he having been attainted by an act of the legislature of that state for adhering to the British cause in the war of the Revolution. In a suit instituted by him for the debt, upon the act of the legislature being pleaded in bar by the obligor, he replied that the acts of the legislature were contrary to the constitution of that state and void. Held that the Confiscation Acts of Georgia were valid.

The presumption must always be in favor of the validity of laws if the contrary is not clearly demonstrated. WASHINGTON, JUSTICE.

The general principles contained in the Constitution are not to be regarded as rules to fetter and control, but as matter merely declaratory and directory, for even in the Constitution itself we may trace repeated departures from the theoretical doctrine that the legislative, executive, and judicial powers should be kept separate and distinct. CHASE, JUSTICE.

The power of confiscation and banishment does not belong to the judicial authority, whose process could not reach offenders, and yet it is a power that grows out of the very nature of the social compact, which must reside somewhere and which is so inherent in the legislature that it cannot be divested or transferred without an express provision of the Constitution.

The record exhibited the following case:

Basil Cooper, at present of the Island of Jamaica in the dominions of His Britannic Majesty, formerly an inhabitant of the State of Georgia, brought an action in the Circuit Court of Georgia to November term, 1797, against Edward Telfair, of the District of Georgia, upon a bond for

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