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Sturges v. Crowninshield


STURGES V. CROWNINSHIELD, 4 Wheaton 122 (1819), examined at length the respective powers of state and federal governments over bankruptcy and what constitutes that "impairment of the obligation of contract" that the Constitution forbids. Ruling on the constitutionality of a New York State bankruptcy law, the Supreme Court maintained that state bankruptcy laws were permitted since congressional legislation was lacking. The Court concluded that the power of Congress to enact "uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies" was supreme. But the New York law was declared invalid because it applied retroactively to contracts made prior to its enactment.


Coleman, Peter J. Debtors and Creditors in America. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society, 1974.

HarveyPinney/a. r.

See alsoBankruptcy Laws ; Contract Clause ; Debt, Imprisonment for ; Enumerated Powers ; Fletcher v. Peck ; Ogden v. Saunders ; State Laws, Uniform .

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