Gelpcké v. Dubuque
GELPCKÉ V. DUBUQUE,
GELPCKÉ V. DUBUQUE, 6 Wallace 50 (1864). Prior to its decision in Gelpcké v. Dubuque, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that it would defer to the most recent state court decision when interpreting that state's constitution. In this case the city of Dubuque issued and later defaulted on bonds to finance the construction of a railroad. The city argued that it was not required to pay back the bonds because in 1862 the Iowa Supreme Court found the 1847 law authorizing the bonds unconstitutional under the state constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court, hearing this case because Gelpcké was not a citizen of Iowa, determined that Dubuque must repay Gelpcké because the Iowa court's ruling did not impair the obligations made by the city under the law before it was found unconstitutional. In his majority opinion Justice Noah H. Swayne stated that the Court would not necessarily be bound by a state court's interpretation of that state's constitution. Preserving state court precedent was not important enough to justify "imolat[ing] truth, justice, and the law." In his dissent Justice Samuel F. Miller argued that the Court should show greater respect for the autonomy of state courts.
Fairman, Charles. Mr. Justice Miller and the Supreme Court, 1862– 1890. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1939.
Rehnquist, William H. The Supreme Court. New York: Knopf, 2001.
See alsoJudicial Review .
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