Fletcher v. Peck

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Fletcher v. Peck (1810) was the first time the Supreme Court interpreted the Contract Clause of the Constitution (Article I, Section 10, which prohibits states from passing laws that impair the obligation of contracts). In 1795 the Georgia legislature had sold much of its western land to land companies, who in turn sold it to individuals. It was later discovered that many members of the legislature had been bribed. The new legislature, elected in 1796, repealed the land grant. Since innocent third parties had bought the land, a suit was filed concerning title to the land. Chief Justice John Marshall held that the original land grant was a contract and that the subsequent repeal broke the contract and therefore violated the Constitution.

Robert W. Langran

Last updated: 2006

SEE ALSO: Contract Clause; Dartmouth College v. Woodward; Home Building and Loan v. Blaisdell; Stone v. Mississippi; United States Trust Company v. New Jersey