State of Louisiana Folsom v. Mayor of the City of New Orleans/Concurrence Bradley
United States Supreme Court
STATE OF LOUISIANA FOLSOM v. MAYOR OF THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS
I concur in the judgment in this case on the special ground that remedies against municipal bodies, for damages caused by mobs, or other violators of law, unconnected with the municipal government, are purely matters of legislative policy, depending on positive law, which may at any time be repealed or modified, either before or after the damage has occurred, and the repeal of which causes the remedy to cease. In giving or withholding remedies of this kind, it is simply a question whether the public shall or shall not indemnify those who sustain losses from the unlawful acts or combinations of individuals; and whether it shall or shall not do so is a matter of legislative discretion; just as it is whether the public shall or shall not indemnify those who suffer losses at the hands of a public enemy, or from intestine commotions or rebellion; and, as the judgments in the present case were founded upon a law giving this kind of remedy, I agree with the court that any restraint of taxation which may affect the means of enforcing them is within the constitutional power of the legislature. Until the claim is reduced to possession, it is subject to legislative regulation. But an ordinary judgment of damages for a tort, rendered against the person committing it, in favor of the person injured, stands upon a very different footing. Such a judgment is founded upon an absolute right, and is as much an article of property as anything else that a party owns; and the legislature can no more violate it without due process of law than it can any other property. To abrogate the remedy for enforcing it, and to give no other adequate remedy in its stead, is to deprive the owner of his property within the meaning of the fourteenth amendment. The remedy for enforcing a judgment is the life of the judgment, just as much as the remedy for enforcing a contract is the life of the contract. While the original constitution protected only contracts from being impaired by state laws, the fourteenth amendment protects every species of property alike, except such as in its nature and origin is subject to legislative control. Hence, I regard it important clearly to distinguish between this kind of judgment now under consideration and other judgments, for claims based upon the absolute right of the party.
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