• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court expanded the contracts clause to include public as well as private contracts.

The 1792 Virginia-Kentucky compact stipulated that Kentucky land titles were to be decided by the preexisting Virginia laws, which protected a number of absentee landowners. However, Kentucky passed a law allowing its settlers to recover the value of improvements they made on land they occupied even if they were not the owners under Virginia law. Virginia objected and took the case to the Supreme Court. In his 1821 opinion for the Court, Justice Joseph StoryStory, Joseph;Green v. Biddle[Green v. Biddle] expanded the contracts clause to include public as well as private agreements and ruled that the contracts clause of the U.S. Constitution prevailed over the Kentucky statute. Kentucky was outraged and forced the Court to withdraw the Story decision. Upon rehearing, Justice Bushrod Washington found essentially the same as Story, but Kentucky continued to enforce its own laws, and the political disagreement over the powers of the Court continued in Congress for some time.Contracts clause;Green v. Biddle[Green v. Biddle]

Contract, freedom of

Contracts clause

Federalism

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