Facts of the Case
Plaintiff, a subject of Great Britain, appealed from the judgment of the Circuit Court for the District of Virginia, which ruled in favor of defendants, citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Court held that the paying of a debt due before the war from the American citizen to British subjects into the loan office of Virginia in pursuance of the law of that state discharged the debtor from their creditor. The British subject argued that the Treaty of Paris ensured the collection of the debt.
Does the Treaty of Paris override an otherwise valid state law?
Four of the five justices wrote opinions. Collectively, the justices held that federal courts had the power to determine the constitutionality of state laws. The Court invalidated the Virginia law under the Supremacy Clause, holding that federal treaties always take precedent over conflicting state laws.
- Citation: 3 US 199 (1796)
- Argued: Feb 7, 1796