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Other decisions in the days of Taney almost succeeded in placing the ban of uncertainty upon all judicial interpretation of the Constitution.

In the case of Craig against the State of Missouri,* an act of that Státe establishing loan offices and authorizing the issue of certificates of stock, receivable in discharge of taxes or debts due to the State, was declared repugnant to that clause of the Constitution which prohibits the States from emitting bills of credit. Although called certificates of stock, they were held by the court to be the kind of circulating paper

which a State was forbidden to issue. But when Kentucky (Briscoe vs. Bank of the State of Kentucky) issued paper from its bank, established “in the name and behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Chief Justice Taney and the majority of the court held that the States were only prohibited from emitting such paper as was denominated bills of credit before and at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. That same Kentucky case had been argued before Chief Justice Marshall, and he and a majority of the court were of opinion that the act was unconstitutional and void. Marshall would prohibit the States from uttering any paper in the nature of bills of credit; Taney would permit them to issue almost any kind of paper, so it was not called a bill of credit. Marshall prohibited the thing, Taney the name.

The Charles River Bridge held its franchises under the Massachusetts Legislature. It held that, as a * 4 Peters, 411.

corporation, it had in perpetuity the exclusive right to erect and maintain a bridge over the Charles river, and receive tolls, and that the act of the Legislature of Massachusetts which authorized the erection of the Warren bridge-a free bridge over the same riverimpaired the implied contract contained in the charter of the Charles River Bridge, not to authorize another such structure. Did the charter of this new bridge impair this implied contract ?

Chief Justice Taney held that there was no such implied contract, that public grants must be construed strictly, and that nothing passes from the States by implication, that what they do not give away they reserve to themselves, and therefore the charter of the Warren bridge was constitutional, since no contract had been impaired by granting it.

The decisions of the Supreme Court in the cases that came before it a few years after the death of Marshall, created alarm in the minds of such eminent ** men as Story and Kent, lest the Judiciary would permit the supremacy of the national government to succumb to the subordinate power of the States and the Constitution itself to become a mere dead letter.

Before the death of Chief Justice Taney, in October, 1864, he perceived that the tribunal in which he presided had become the weakest branch of the government, and that in attempting to resist the tide of popular opinion on the question of slavery, it had become almost impotent even in its appropriate sphere. The present importance of that high tribunal is due to its ability, impartiality and the reverence of the American people for its highest oracle of the law.

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