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Kennard v. Louisiana ex Rel. Morgan, 92 U.S. 480 (1875)

Kennard v. Louisiana ex Rel. Morgan

92 U.S. 480


The State of Louisiana passed an act entitled "An Act to regulate proceedings in contestations between persons claiming a judicial office."

Sec. 1 provided that

"In any case in which a person may have been appointed to the office of judge of any court of this state, and shall have been confirmed by the senate, and commissioned thereto, . . . such commission shall be prima facie proof of the right of such person to immediately hold and exercise such office."

Sec. 2 provides

"That if any person, being an incumbent of such office, shall refuse to vacate the same and turn the same over to the person so commissioned, such person so commissioned shall have the right to proceed by rule before the court of competent jurisdiction, to have himself declared to be entitled to such office, and to be inducted therein. Such rule shall be taken contradictorily with such incumbent, and shall be made returnable within twenty-four hours, and shall be tried immediately without jury, and by preference over all matter or causes depending in such court, . . . and the judgment thereon shall be signed the same day of rendition."

The next section provides that an appeal, if taken, shall be applied for within one day after the rendition of the judgment, and be made returnable to the supreme court within two days. The appeal has preference over all other business in that court, and the judgment thereon is final after the expiration of one day. Held that the state, by proceedings under this act, which resulted in a judgment adverse to the title of the plaintiff in error to a certain judicial office, did not, through her judiciary, violate that clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which declares, "nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

On the 3d of December, 1872, John H. Kennard was, during a recess of the Senate of Louisiana, appointed by the Governor Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, in place of W. W. Howe, resigned.

On the 4th of January, 1873, the acting governor commissioned P. H. Morgan Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, in place of W. W. Howe, resigned. Kennard claimed to hold until the expiration of the next regular session of the legislature.

To settle the disputed title to the office, suit was brought. The courts of Louisiana, proceeding under an Act of the legislature of Jan. 15, 1873, determined in favor of Morgan.

The case was then brought here upon the ground that the State of Louisiana acting under this law, through her judiciary, had deprived Kennard of his office without due process of law, in violation of that provision of the Fourteenth Amendment of

Page 92 U. S. 481

the Constitution of the United States which prohibits any state from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property, "without due process of law." The provisions of the law are set forth in the opinion of the Court.

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