Briscoe v. Bank of Commonwealth of Kentucky 11 Peters 257 (1837)

AuthorLeonard W. Levy

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This is one of the cases decided by the Supreme Court during the first term that ROGER B. TANEY was Chief Justice, and the decision panicked conservatives into the belief

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that the constitutional restraints which the MARSHALL COURT imposed on the states no longer counted. The case was decided during a depression year when an acute shortage of currency existed. Kentucky authorized a bank, which was state-owned and -operated, to issue notes that circulated as currency. Justice JOSEPH STORY made a powerful argument that the state notes violated the constitutional injunction against state BILLS OF CREDIT, but he spoke in lonely dissent. The Court, by a 6?1 vote, sustained the act authorizing the state bank notes. Justice JOHN MCLEAN, for the majority, assumed that the clause prohibiting bills of credit did not apply to notes not issued on the faith of a state by a CORPORATION chartered by the state. McLean's weak argument was dictated by the...

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