Obstruction of Commerce & the Mail

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night (nor Pullman Strike) stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”   This (slightly altered) saying, an inscription found on the General Post Office in New York City, is widely regarded as the motto of the U.S. Postal Service.  It is not, at least not officially, but you get the drift: nothing will be allowed to prevent delivery of the U.S. mail.

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New Jersey v. Wilson, 11 U.S. 7 Cranch 164 164 (1812)

Are the terms of a contract inviolate?  Can a contract run in perpetuity and affect something other than the parties involved?  Can contracts be impaired (modified or broken) without the consent of both parties?    These were the questions facing the Court in 1812 when they accepted an appeal of New Jersey v. Wilson.

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Gelpcke v. City of Dubuque, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 175 (1863) – “Oscillations” in the Law

On its face, Gelpcke v. Dubuque appears to be about the validity of municipal bonds and not much else, but there were deeper legal issues at play. Namely, who has the ultimate authority to interpret a state constitution or statute, the highest state court or the federal courts (including the Supreme Court)? And when a state supreme court gives a new interpretation to a state statute, does that constitute an amendment of the statute, i.e. does it have the status of “law?” If so, and this has the effect of rendering a contract void, can this then bring the opinion of the state supreme court into conflict with the U.S. Constitution, i.e., the Impairment of Contracts clause?

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