Padelford, Fay & Co.
Mayor and Aldermen of City of Savannah

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Padelford, Fay & Co. v. Mayor and Aldermen of City of Savannah
14 Ga. 438, 1854 WL 1492 (Ga., Jan Term 1854) (NO. 64)

"No private person has a right to complain by suit in court on the ground of a breach of the United States constitution; for, though the constitution is a compact, he is not a party to it."

[5.] The Constitution is to be construed in the sense in which it was understood by the makers of it at the time when they made it.

[6.] This sense is expressed by the four following propositions:

  1. That the Constitution delegated to the General Government, or any department thereof, no power by implication, but only delegated such powers as it expressly enumerated.
  2. That it delegated no exclusive power, unless the delegation was said to be exclusive.
  3. That it laid no prohibition upon the States, except such as it specified.
  4. That the words used in it, if susceptible of more meanings than one, were used in the meaning which was least favorable to the delegation of power, and most favorable to its retention.


As received from Lewis Mohr:

This is a very interesting case for 2 reasons:

1, a man is not a party to the constitutions, and

2, the supreme court of Georgia is equal to the US Supreme Court.

This is real cool news to those who would collect taxes by claiming that the 16th amendment gives them the authority to collect a tax. From who? The constitutions do not apply to a private person. Therefore subdivisions of things created by constitutions do not apply to a private person. I suppose the mantra for everyone who receives a presentment should be "Show me the contract." Also, could the commercial agents of this state claim that the Supreme Court of Texas is co-equal to the US Supreme Court, or due to the 1854 year of the Padelford case being prior to the Civil War a state can no longer assert such a claim due to the fact that we no longer even have a functioning de jure constitution. This Padelford case make 2 very poignant revelations that should cause all to demand full disclosure for where does all of the federal agencies get their authority for coming into the states and dictating their policy. Hhmm... Have all of the state governors surrendered the sovereignty of the states to a commercial foreign power?

L -o-

As received from Larry Becraft:


I do not place much credence in that isolated statement. Judges write opinions for the purpose of explaining how they reached certain results and conclusions. If a decision by a Supreme Court, it applies in that jurisdiction. It has no effect in other jurisdictions. But then again over time, an opinion containing “dicta” may not be upheld in the future. That statement about "not being a party to the constitution" conflicts with other authority. Let me explain.

That statement needs to be examined in the appropriate context. The Georgia Supreme Court that rendered that decision in 1854 was created by the Georgia Constitution of 1798, which is posted here:

That 1798 constitution was not adopted by the people, but by a committee of authorized delegates:

"We the underwritten delegates of the people of the State of Georgia, chosen and authorized by them to revise, alter or amend the powers and principles of their government, do declare, ordain, and ratify the several articles and sections contained in the six pages hereunto prefixed, as the constitution of this State; and the same shall be in operation from the date hereof."

Thus as a matter of fact, the people and citizens of Georgia had nothing to do with adoption of that 1798 constitution, which was in effect when the Padelford decision was rendered. But the later Georgia Constitutions were adopted via approval of the citizens.

That statement that people/persons/citizens were not parties to that constitution is thus correct. However, most constitutions adopted over the last 150 years have been adopted by popular vote of the people. In this respect, I would say that those voting for a constitution are “parties” to it.

Here in Alabama, our present constitution was adopted in 1901. It constitutes a charter creating a state government and, typical of American constitutions, it created 3 branches. Constitutions create governmental institutions. The Alabama legislature was granted law-making power via our 1901 constitution. As a citizen of Alabama, I guess I could consider myself a “party” to that Constitution in the sense that I, a later citizen of Alabama, am the posterity of those previous citizens. But in reality, I was not even born in 1901, and thus clearly was not a "party".

But all this “patriot” chit-chat about being a party to the constitution is really irrelevant. Under Alabama law, I can complain when government violates the constitution, and I have done so many times, including just a couple of weeks ago when I drafted a motion to suppress for a friend of mine who needed one quick. Motions to suppress challenge a search with an argument that such search violated the Constitution. The same right to complain about constitutional violations exists at the federal level as well as all other States in this country. Consequently, based on legal authority I am not going to catalog here, the statement in the Padelford case is irrelevant.


As received from LB Bork:

Me, I am not a citizen. They took that away.

Moreover, I am not involved in criminal activity, nor have to associated with them.


Thanks for sharing.

Regards, LB

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