Bethell v. Demaret
Annotate this Case
77 U.S. 537 (1870)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Bethell v. Demaret, 77 U.S. 10 Wall. 537 537 (1870)
Bethell v. Demaret
77 U.S. (10 Wall.) 537
1. The authority conferred by a state on its supreme court to hear and determine cases is not the kind of authority referred to in the 25th section of the Judiciary Act, which gives this Court a right to review the decisions of the highest state court where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of, or an authority exercised under any state, on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution &c., and the decision is in favor of such validity.
2. The decision of a state court which simply held that promissory notes, given for the loan of "Confederate currency," together with a mortgage to secure the notes, were nullities on the ground that the consideration
was illegal according to the law of the state at the time the contract was entered into is not a decision repugnant to the Constitution.
Bethel brought suit against Demaret and others in a district court of the state to enforce a mortgage given to secure the payment of two notes of $7,500 each, given by them for the loan of Confederate currency, on the 2d April, 1862, payable in two and three years after date, with interest. The plaintiff recovered judgment and the mortgaged premises were directed to be sold to pay it. Whereupon an appeal was taken to the supreme court of the state, where the judgment was reversed and the suit dismissed. The decision was placed on the ground that the Confederate money was illegal and constituted no valid consideration for the two notes and mortgage at the time they were executed, according to the code of the state. * The court said in its opinion,
"The plaintiff is endeavoring to enforce a contract, the consideration of which was Confederate currency. The nullity of contracts founded upon that unlawful currency has been frequently determined."
The plaintiff then brought the case here, assuming it to come within that clause of the 25th section of the Judiciary Act which gives a right of review to this Court of the judgment in the highest state court
"where is drawn in question the validity of a statute of or an authority exercised under any state on the ground of their being repugnant to the Constitution &c., . . . and the decision is in favor of such validity. "