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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES,
OCTOBER TERM, 1889.
HANS v. LOUISIANA.
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA.
Decided March 3, 1890.
A State cannot, without its consent, be sued in a Circuit Court of the United States by one of its own citizens, upon a suggestion that the case is one that arises under the Constitution and laws of the United States. Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 Dall. 419, questioned.
While a State cannot be compelled by suit to perform its contracts, any attempt on its part to violate property or rights acquired under its contracts may be judicially resisted; and any law impairing the obligation of contracts under which such property or rights are held is void, and powerless to affect their enjoyment.
No. 4. Argued and submitted January 22, 1890.
THIS was an action brought in the Circuit Court of the United States, in December, 1884, against the State of Louisiana by Hans, a citizen of that State, to recover the amount of certain coupons annexed to bonds of the State, issued under the provisions of an act of the legislature approved January 24, 1874. The bonds were known and designated as the "con solidated bonds of the State of Louisiana," and the coupons sued on are for interest which accrued January 1, 1880. The grounds of the action were stated in the petition as follows: "Your petitioner avers that by the issue of said bonds and
Statement of the Case.
coupons said State contracted with and agreed to pay the bearer thereof the principal sum of said bonds forty years from the date thereof, to wit, the first day of January, 1874, and to pay the interest thereon represented by coupons as aforesaid, including the coupons held by your petitioner, semi-annually upon the maturity of said coupons; and said legislature, by an act approved January 24, 1874, proposed an amendment to the constitution of said State, which was afterwards duly adopted, and is as follows, to wit:
"No. 1. The issue of consolidated bonds, authorized by the general assembly of the State at its regular session in the year 1874, is hereby declared to create a valid contract between the State and each and every holder of said bonds, which the State shall by no means and in nowise impair. The said bonds shall be a valid obligation of the State in favor of any holder thereof, and no court shall enjoin the payment of the principal or interest thereof or the levy and collection of the tax therefor. To secure such levy, collection and payment the judicial power shall be exercised when necessary. The tax required for the payment of the principal and interest of said bonds. shall be assessed and collected each and every year until said' bonds shall be paid, principal and interest, and the proceeds shall be paid by the treasurer of the State to the holders of said bonds as the principal and interest shall fall due, and no further legislation or appropriation shall be requisite for the said assessment and collection and for such payment from the treasury.'
"And petitioner further avers that, notwithstanding said solemn compact with the holders of said bonds, said State hath refused and still refuses to pay said coupons held by petitioner, and by its constitution, adopted in 1879, ordained as follows:
"That the coupon of said consolidated bonds falling due. the first of January, 1880, be, and the same is hereby, remitted, and any interest taxes collected to meet said coupons are hereby transferred to defray the expenses of the state government;' and by article 257 of said constitution also prescribed that the constitution of this state, adopted in eighteen hundred and sixty-eight, and all amendments thereto, is declared