Boyd v. Alabama,
94 U.S. 645 (1876)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Boyd v. Alabama, 94 U.S. 645 (1876)

Boyd v. Alabama

94 U.S. 645


The defendant, having been indicted under a statute of Alabama for setting up and carrying on a lottery without legislative authority, claimed in defense a right to set up and carry on the lottery in question under a subsequent statute passed on the 10th of October, 1868; this latter statute was repealed in March, 1871. It was admitted on the trial that the acts charged against the defendant were done under that statute, and would be legal if the statute were constitutional and had not been repealed. That statute required the defendant, and certain other parties associated with him, before exercising the right claimed, to deposit in the treasury of the state, to the credit of the school fund, and for educational purposes, $2,000, and annually thereafter the same sum for twenty years, or so long as they might do business under the act, and that sum had been deposited. Under a previous indictment against the same defendant for a similar offense, the supreme court of the state had held

Page 94 U. S. 646

that the statute in question constituted a contract, and that the repealing act was for that reason void. In that case, the only matter before the court was the meaning of the statute; its constitutionality was not called in question. On the trial of the case at bar, the defendant relied upon that decision of the court, but he was nevertheless convicted and sentenced. On appeal to the supreme court of the state, the judgment was affirmed, the court deciding that the statute of Oct. 10, 1868, was unconstitutional. Held that the previous adjudication of the court upon the meaning of the statute -- that it constituted a contract between the defendant and the state -- did not estop the state from denying its constitutionality in the present case nor conclude the court upon that question, although the point might have been raised and determined in the first instance.

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