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Kesler v. Department of Public Safety, 369 U.S. 153 (1962)

Kesler v. Department of Public Safety of Utah

No. 14

Argued October 10, 1961

Decided March 26, 1962

369 U.S. 153


Under Utah's Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Act, which gives judgment creditors control over the initiation and duration of suspensions, appellant's automobile registration and operator's license were suspended because of his failure to satisfy judgments based on his negligent operation of an automobile. After being granted a voluntary discharge in bankruptcy releasing him from the judgment debts, he applied to state authorities for restoration of his automobile registration and operator's license. This as denied, because the state statute requires satisfaction of the judgments as a condition of reinstatement, and provides specifically that a discharge in bankruptcy shall not relieve a judgment debtor from this requirement. He sued in a Federal District Court to enjoin state officials from enforcing this provision, on the ground that it conflicted with § 17 of the Bankruptcy Act, and therefore was void under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. A three-judge District Court denied relief, and he appealed directly to this Court.


1. Under 28 U.S.C. § 2281, this case was required to be heard and determined by a three-judge District Court, and this Court has jurisdiction of this direct appeal under § 1253. Pp. 369 U. S. 155-158.

2. This state statute is not unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause because of conflict with § 17 of the Bankruptcy Act. Pp. 369 U. S. 158-174.

187 F.Supp. 277, affirmed.

Page 369 U. S. 154

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