• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court voided a state law that discharged a debt and thereby violated the contracts clause.

Chief Justice John MarshallMarshall, John;Sturges v. Crowninshield[Sturges v. Crowninshield] wrote the unanimous opinion for the Supreme Court, voiding a New York statute that attempted to provide debt relief for debtors who would assign their property for the benefit of creditors. Marshall upheld the state against the challenge that it lacked any authority to enact debt relief legislation, saying that the state could do so absent federal legislation on the issue. However, this particular statute set aside a debt incurred before the statute took effect and therefore was contrary to the Constitution’s contracts clause of Article I, section 10. Debt relief was controversial until federal bankruptcy legislation was passed late in the nineteenth century.Contracts clause;Sturges v. Crowninshield[Sturges v. Crowninshield]Bankruptcy law;Sturges v. Crowninshield[Sturges v. Crowninshield]

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Contract, freedom of

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