Home Building and Loan v. Blaisdell (1934)
In Home Building and Loan Association v. Blaisdell (1934), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Minnesota Mortgage Moratorium Act of 1933 over a charge that it was a violation of the Contract Clause of the Constitution. The law allowed for a time extension before mortgages could be foreclosed, but it did not cancel the debt nor did it allow the farmers to put off payment indefinitely. The Supreme Court in a five-to-four decision authored by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes upheld the law, saying that in times of emergency governments may do things that they cannot do in normal times. This was one of those measures, and the Contract Clause of the Constitution was not abridged because the mortgages still had to be paid. To many observers, the decision seemed to mark the end of the use of the Contract Clause as a limitation on the states’ police power.
Robert W. Langran
Last updated: 2006