Keith v. Clark
97 U.S. 454 (1878)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Keith v. Clark, 97 U.S. 454 (1878)

Keith v. Clark

97 U.S. 454

Syllabus

1. Where a case has been decided in an inferior court of a state on a single point which would give this Court jurisdiction, it will not be presumed here that the supreme court of the state decided it on some other ground not found in the record or suggested in the latter court.

2. The State of Tennessee having, in 1838, organized the Bank of Tennessee, agreed, by a clause in the charter, to receive all its issues of circulating notes in payment of taxes; but, by a constitutional amendment adopted in 1865, it declared the issues of the bank during the insurrectionary period void, and forbade their receipt for taxes. Held that the amendment was in conflict with the provision of the Constitution of the United States against impairing the obligation of contracts.

3. There is no evidence in this record that the notes offered in payment of taxes by the plaintiff were issued in aid of the rebellion, or on any consideration forbidden by the Constitution or the laws of the United States, and no such presumption arises from any thing of which this Court can take judicial notice.

4. The political society which, in 1796, was organized and admitted into the Union by the name of Tennessee has to this time remained the same body politic. Its attempt to separate itself from that Union did not destroy its identity as a state nor free it from the binding force of the Constitution of the United States.

5. Being the same political organization during the rebellion and since that it was before -- an organization essential to the existence of society -- all its acts, legislative and otherwise, during the period of the rebellion are valid and obligatory on the state now except where they were done in aid of that rebellion or are in conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States or were intended to impeach its authority.

6. If the notes which were the foundation of this suit had been issued on a consideration which would make them void for any of the reasons mentioned, it is for the party asserting their invalidity to set up and prove the facts on which such a plea is founded.

The facts are stated in the opinion, of the Court.

Page 97 U. S. 455

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