Frazier-Lemke Farm Bankruptcy Act

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FRAZIER-LEMKE FARM BANKRUPTCY ACT represented an effort by agrarian reformers to solve the problems of the agricultural depression that began during the 1920s. Sponsored by North Dakota Senator Lynn Frazier and North Dakota Representative William Lemke, it allowed the federal courts to scale down a farmer's debt to a level commensurate with the existing value of his property. If the farmer was able to retire this scaled-down debt, no further demands could be made upon him. The bill was enacted by Congress on 28 June 1934 and authorized the courts, under certain conditions, to grant such farmers a five-year moratorium. The Supreme Court, on 27 May 1935, unanimously ruled this act to be a violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. On 29 August 1935, Congress passed the Frazier-Lemke Farm Mortgage Moratorium Act, modifying the terms of the moratorium and limiting it to a three-year period. The law was unanimously sustained by the Supreme Court on 29 March 1937.


Blackorby, Edward C. Prairie Rebel: The Public Life of William Lemke. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1963.


Erik McKinleyEriksson

See alsoBankruptcy Laws ; Mortgage Relief Legislation .